News : Packers Insider

Packers emphasizing athleticism in secondary

June 17, 2017 by  
Filed under News

From Tom Silverstein, JSonline

~GREEN BAY – It took Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy 12 swings in the draft to build the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line into a stable product capable of protecting quarterback Aaron Rodgers from start to finish during the season.

The two devoted two first-round picks, four fourths, four fifths, one sixth and one seventh before they accumulated enough talent and depth to form a five-man unit capable of handling the frequency of throws in McCarthy’s offense and holding blocks a second or two longer than if they were playing with a less-mobile quarterback.

(Photo: Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

(Photo: Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Recognizing the pressure high-octane passing games are putting on defenses around the league, Thompson and McCarthy are approaching the secondary the same way they did the offensive line, attempting to build the same kind of cohesiveness that comes from playing the same guys year after year.

The two went all-in on the secondary position in an attempt to build a stable unit capable of protecting the defensive backfield from the start of a season to the finish. Stability is now as important there as it is on the offensive line.

lenzy pipkins

“Totally,” McCarthy said this week as the Packers wrapped up their offseason program with a three-day minicamp.

Over the past three years, Thompson and McCarthy have drafted six defensive backs and signed a veteran free agent in an attempt to solidify a soft spot on defense. Of the six picks, two were first-rounders (Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Damarious Randall), three were seconds (Quinten Rollins, Kevin King and Josh Jones) and one was a sixth (Demetri Goodson).

The free agent, Davon House, was a fourth-round pick in 2011 who detoured through Jacksonville on his way back to Green Bay.

“Our biggest challenge was that we had so many guys going through the cornerback position,” McCarthy said of last season. “Teams that are playing the best are the teams that are playing together. Ultimately, one of the best statistics out there is if you look at the success of a football team that plays with the same offensive line the whole year. It’s a great stat. It tells you so much.

“If you have the same group playing together down the stretch, if you have a very healthy team just in the month of December, you’re in it. Going into the playoffs, it’s a huge advantage. But when you’re still rotating guys — it was every week — you can’t really set your plan until Thursday or Friday, it’s a bigger challenge. I’m not trying to make excuses.”

Rather than gamble that his two high picks from the 2015 draft (Randall and Rollins) finally would play to their draft status and avoid injury this coming season, he added King with the 33rd pick and Jones with the 61st pick in April’s draft.

It was an extremely good draft for cornerbacks, so Thompson might have been just following his draft board, but the Packers zeroed in on Jones in December with the intention of applying his outstanding physical talents to multiple positions in defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ system. They felt King could fill a key spot on the outside and allow Randall and Rollins to compete for time in the slot positions.


Just like on the offensive line, all of the cornerbacks start out learning multiple positions so that they can play anywhere in a pinch. King wasn’t at most of the offseason workouts because of college semester restrictions, but Jones has been and he played just about everywhere but nose tackle.

At 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, Jones runs the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds. At 6-foot-3, 200, King runs it at 4.43. At the combine, King had the fastest times of anyone in two of the agility drills (three-cone and short shuttle).

Speed was appealing but what McCarthy really wanted was general athleticism, the ability to perform in numerous roles. The more defensive backs he has capable of playing multiple positions, the less often he’ll have to put a center at left tackle, to use an offensive line analogy.

“There’s been times over the past two years, Ted and I felt their team was moving faster than we were,” McCarthy said. “Did Atlanta have good team speed? Yeah. Especially at home. But we didn’t plan on playing out there.

Davon House

“I always focus on athletic ability. Do you want to have a fast team? If you ask me based on playing at Lambeau Field eight times a year, I want the athletic ability. I think you see that in our linemen. Speed is a bonus.

“But we’re not a dome team, we’re not a turf team. If you ask me, I want to be a big-boned, long-levered athletic team, playing all your cleats in the ground at Lambeau Field, the snow and the turf.”

It would be negligent not to mention that there were times the offensive line was a mess during the seven years it was under construction. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga missed the better part of two seasons with knee injuries, tackle Derek Sherrod was a bust at left tackle, center JC Tretter missed 24 of his first 32 games with leg injuries, Don Barclay was a liability when he had to start anywhere but right tackle and guard Josh Sitton had to play left tackle in a regular-season finale loss to Minnesota that cost the Packers the 2015 division title.

Though Clinton-Dix has been a smashing success, Randall, Rollins and Goodson have been disappointments, rookie free agent LaDarius Gunter can’t run with fast receivers, safety Kentrell Brice was undrafted for a reason and there’s no guarantee House will be starter-worthy.

And the rookies?

“It’s hard to play, period,” McCarthy said of covering receivers. “It’s a primary position. That’s why I’ve always talked about the second-year player. If you’re putting stress on your team’s success based on rookie production in early-season games, that’s not a good plan.

“Let’s be practical. We all watch the draft and it’s exciting, but when you get down to it, if you’re stressing the success of your team on your rookie class early in the year, that’s a big challenge. I’ve done that with certain segments of our team and it hasn’t worked out.”

The one thing Thompson and McCarthy have done with the heavy emphasis on acquiring defensive backs is give themselves a chance. They’ve got more athletic talent in the secondary than at any time since the Super Bowl XLV season.

They just need some consistency.

Original story here

Under-the-radar names to remember from OTAs: Trevor Davis

June 17, 2017 by  
Filed under News

By Rob Demovsky,

Green Bay Packers

Trevor Davis, wide receiver

Davis, a fifth-round pick from Cal, didn’t have much of an impact last season as a rookie. In fact, he was surpassed on the depth chart by undrafted free agent Geronimo Allison midway through the season and was inactive or did not play five times in a six-game stretch late in the season.

Davis has a burst to get behind the cornerbacks. Here, Cal QB Jared Goff throws a perfect pass that Davis hauls in for a Golden Bear touchdown.

Davis has a burst to get behind the cornerbacks. Here, Cal QB Jared Goff throws a perfect pass that Davis hauls in for a Golden Bear touchdown.

But Davis might be the fastest player on the roster — he ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at the combine — and receivers coach Luke Getsy said he has made significant improvements this offseason. “His confidence level is much higher,” Getsy said. “I’m excited for Trevor. I think he’s going to have a really big August for us, and he’ll be one of those guys that are going to show up.” — Rob Demovsky

Davis didn't catch this one, but it drew a flag for pass interference.

Davis didn’t catch this one, but it drew a flag for pass interference.


Don’t call it a bounce-back year for Packers receiver Randall Cobb

June 8, 2017 by  
Filed under News

From Robby Demovsky,

~GREEN BAY, Wis. – It’s been two seasons since Randall Cobb’s breakout year. In NFL years, that’s a lifetime ago.

The Green Bay Packers receiver might be the ultimate what-have-you-done-for-me-lately case.

A well-respected player around Lambeau Field and the league, Cobb hasn’t come close to his 2014 production – 91 catches, 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns – that led to the four-year, $40 million contract he signed in March 2015. Halfway through that contract, the Packers have to be wondering whether this will be a bounce-back year for the 26-year-old.

4th and goal, end of game, Packers needing a touchdown on this play to tie the game. Great playcall, design by Coach McCarthy.

4th and goal, end of game, Packers needing a touchdown on this play to tie the game.
Great playcall, design by Coach McCarthy.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a bounce-back year,” Packers receivers coach Luke Getsy said. “He played really well for us when he was full-go.”

Getsy is right in that regard; injuries have slowed Cobb in the last two seasons. A preseason shoulder injury hampered him in 2015. Even though he never missed a game, the shoulder bothered him all season. His production dropped: 71 catches, 829 yards and six touchdowns.

Last year, an early season hamstring injury cost him one game and an ankle injury that kept him out of the final two regular-season games. In 13 games, he caught just 60 passes for 610 yards and four touchdowns – his lowest totals since 2013, when he missed 10 games with a broken bone in his leg.

Still, he showed a glimpse of what he once was in the wild-card playoff win over the New York Giants with five catches for 116 yards and three touchdowns.

“Shoot, that first playoff game, he wasn’t even healthy for that one,” Getsy said. “And he played his butt off.”

18 Cobb Hail Mary wide view

The Packers have been talking this offseason about finding more ways to get Cobb the ball. That’s no easy task given how many options Aaron Rodgers has – from Jordy Nelson to Davante Adams to Ty Montgomery to new tight ends Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks.

“It’s important to make sure you create opportunities for all these guys,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said earlier this offseason. “And how can you get Randall the ball a couple more times a game? Those are the things I think about at night – just making sure that our system has something for everybody, because you need everybody. You need to make sure the right guys are touching the ball as much as possible.”

Clearly, McCarthy and his staff think the Packers’ offense is better when Cobb has the ball in his hands.

They value Cobb’s versatility – he even lines up in the backfield and gets a few carries (10 last season, 50 for his career) – but they still have to remember he’s a 5-foot-10 slot receiver with limitations when he lines up outside. Most of Cobb’s production has come from the slot, where he has lined up on 80.1 percent of his career receptions and all but two of his career touchdown catches, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

“When you have a guy like him that’s so dynamic with the football in his hands, I think that’s where coach was going with it is you’ve got to get him the football,” Getsy said. “And it’s different when you have a 6-7 tight end or a 6-4 receiver outside, there’s probably a little bit easier direct line to get the guy the ball. But I don’t think anybody on this football team is as dynamic as that guy is with the football. So yeah, he’s an important part to our process and us having success for sure. So yeah, we’ve got to do that. We’ve got to get him the ball.”

Packers sign undrafted cornerback Daquan Holmes

June 8, 2017 by  
Filed under News

FOX Sports Wisconsin
-Jun 7, 2017 at 5:24p ET

~The Green Bay Packers added another defensive back Wednesday, signing undrafted cornerback Daquan Holmes and releasing cornerback David Rivers.

Holmes had previously attended rookie tryouts in May.

A 5-foot-11 defender out of American International College, Holmes had 69 tackles, 10 passes defended and five interceptions as a senior.

He also returned 11 kickoffs for 132 total yards and a touchdown.

Rivers also went undrafted and signed earlier this year following a two-year career at Youngstown State.

DRAFT WEEK: Green Bay Packers Mock Draft 1 -Full 7-Rounder

April 22, 2017 by  
Filed under News

From Brian E Murphy

~The Draft starts in 5 days.

GM/Head Scout Ted Thompson  is busy trying to decide who he wants for his first pick Thursday night at pick #29. Or perhaps he will trade down and out of the first round as he has done before.

If Thompson does make a pick Thursday night, the odds are you can look west for that player, and specifically, the Pac-12.

  • Kenny Clark, UCLA (first round pick last year)
  • Damarious Randall, Arizona State (first round pick in 2015)
  • Datone Jones, UCLA (first round pick in 2013)
  • Nick Perry, USC (first round pick in 2012)
  • Aaron Rodgers, Cal (very first ever pick by TT in 2005)

Don’t forget that Blake Martinez, Trevor Davis, Kyle Murphy, Brett Hundley, Ty Montgomery, Richard Rodgers, David Bakhtiari, and Mason Crosby are all current Packers players who are from schools that are in the Pac-12, each drafted by Thompson.

He also hit with Desmond Bishop from Cal, but his career sadly was stopped too soon due to a devastating hamstring injury.

Those are trends, which eventually change. And the odds are they will this year. But nobody knows.

With that being said, let’s begin our MOCK-a-DAY series this week here, assuming it doesn’t change quite yet. The mock drafts we make after this one will use all fresh players, so that nobody is used more than once. If you see a guy in this one, you won’t see him again.

This is mostly due to Thompson’s picks being so unpredictable, and we’d like to eventually actually hit on a few of the picks.

Also remember this: Every single draft there are a handful of players who slide from supposed-first round picks, into round two, three, even later. Last year, many experts had Baylor DT Andrew Billings as a late first round pick, including many penciling him to the Packers to replace the suddenly-retired BJ Raji.

Vontaze Burfict was mocked by many to be a first or second round pick, but he slid totally out of the draft because of character concerns. There are many other examples from Le’Veon Bell to Eddie Lacy in the same draft. Each was a popular first round pick in many mocks. Each ended up going in round two that draft. So did Christine Michael, who went the pick after Lacy, to Seattle.

Now Lacy is on Seattle, and Michael on the Packers. And they will meet week one in Green Bay.

And remember this: Thompson seems to love to surprise people, from we the fans, to Kiper, McShay, and Mayock. Nobody even had Randall as a cornerback two years ago. He was a safety, and the Packers were set at safety with Hasean Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett. Thompson followed that up with basketball player Quinten Rollins in round two.

Everyone thought the Packers needed an inside linebacker, and all the top ones were still available when Thompson turned in the shocker of Randall (Kendricks went to Minnesota, Perriman to San Diego, Anthony to New Orleans).

Thompson also has gone down lower in ‘rankings’. We as fans, if we are picking at say #29, we tend to want to grab the guy that we, or Mel, or Todd has ranked highest who is still available, whether it’s Mel’s #16 ranked player, or McShay’s #21 guy, we want their BPA. That will make our draft “look better”, get a higher “grade” from the fan pundits.

But Teddy doesn’t think like that. He will take his guy regardless. Clark, Datone, Perry, Randall each were ranked lower by 95% of the pundits. So was Justin Harrell. So was Pat Lee. But you were excited by Brian Brohm being picked in round two.


1 – Traded down for a high #2 and a high #4 and a high #7

2/via tradeChidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado (Pac-12)
5-11 7/8, 202 lbs.

2 – Derek Rivers, OLB, Youngstown State
6-3 5/8, 248 lbs.

3 – D’Onta Foreman, RB, Texas
6-0, 233 lbs

4/via trade – Cordrea Tankersly, CB, Clemson
6-1 1/4, 199 lbs.

To me, this would be a huge steal. ESPN Insider/Scouts has Tankersley rated as their #138-ranked player in this draft.

4 – Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma
5-11 7/8, 183 lbs.

5 – Jordan Morgan, G, Kutztown
6-2 5/8, 309 lbs.

5 comp- Treyvon Hester, DT, Toledo
6-2 3/8, 300 lbs.

6 – Marcus Eligwe, ILB, Georgia Southern
6-1 5/8, 234 lbs.

7/via trade – Corey Levin, G, Chattanooga
6-3 7/8, 307 lbs.

7 – Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Texas A&M
6-4 5/8, 243 lbs.


First of all, many Packer fans are hoping this is the year Thompson trades up from #29, maybe finds one difference-maker higher in the draft that can take this defense up a notch from bad to average, or better.

Teddy doesn’t work like that.

First of all, what position do you think he can add one youngster at who will take the defense up a notch? A relentless fast edge-rusher? The starting two already are there in 2012 first-rounder Nick Perry and 2009 first rounder Clay Matthews. Some fans are down on Matthews. They shouldn’t be. When healthy, and he’s due for a healthier-than-normal season, he’s a difference-maker.

How about at cornerback? Well perhaps, but even the highest-rated cornerbacks in this draft class are no sure-things. Marshon Lattimore is no sure lockdown corner. Remember, Richard Sherman was taken in the bottom half of his draft, right after Thompson took Davon House.

Sam Shields wasn’t drafted. Casey Hayward was not a first round pick. Tramon Williams wasn’t drafted. But Damarious Randall was a first-rounder.

I don’t want Thompson trading up and putting all the eggs in one basket of any cornerback in this draft.

There will be talented ones available in rounds two and later.

Opposing Defenses Do Not Want to See Adrian Peterson Join Aaron Rodgers

March 25, 2017 by  
Filed under News

From Brian E Murphy, Packers Insider Senior Editor

~Forget the pundits who say “Adrian Peterson’s running style is a bad fit with the Packers’ offense.”
This is nonsense.

adrian 3
Anyone who says that fails to realize that the “styles” of running between Eddie Lacy and Ty Montgomery, Christine Michael and James Starks are dramatically different.

What matters most is this: What does it do to the overall offense, and what do all the opposing defenses do to defend against it?

Starks and Lacy are somewhat similar to Peterson in their running style. Starks has terrible hands.
Michael can’t remember his assignments. And Montgomery is a wide receiver now playing running back, and doing a fine job. But he’s not a workhorse. He never has been, and he never will be. Most aren’t.

Michael was just re-signed, but his deal is a cheap one and he’s not expected to be the main man.

adrian 5
Peterson would be “the man”. And the defenses do not want to see him lining up in a green number 28 jersey, behind the best quarterback in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers. You don’t believe that? Ask the Bears’ and Lions’ linebackers and defensive backs.

Some armchair quarterbacks are saying that “Peterson sucks now”.
“Did you see him last year in Minnesota? He was terrible!”

Well, did you see their offensive line? Did you review the film and see the blocking? Did you notice the Vikings have let 3/5th of that offensive line go?
Did you notice the eight and nine-man fronts constantly gearing up to stop Peterson?

Do you think those defenses feared and game-planned for Sam Bradford (and Teddy Bridgewater before him) like those defenses would with Aaron Rodgers at QB? No. Defenses against those Vikings had 11 guys with their eyes and mind on #28 anytime he lined up behind the QB.

With Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and Randall Cobb all showing they are capable of making long catches, and now tight ends Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks brought aboard, the defense has to pick their poison.

Adrian Peterson still commands the respect of every defense.

With that respect comes choices to be made. If they move some defensive backs and linebackers up too much, Nelson and Bennett are going to make them pay by running past them. Or Cobb or Adams.

If those defenses worry about Nelson, Adams, Cobb and Bennett too much, Peterson will find more space than he’s seen in  years, and pound them.

adrian damarious

Peyton Manning won his last (his second) Super Bowl behind a good running game. So did John Elway. Brett Favre should have won his second Super Bowl with Peterson leading the way. Last year, Tom Brady had running back LeGarrette Blount scoring 15 touchdowns with his bruising running style. Remember, Blount had been thrown out, given away by a few teams before the Patriots brought him on board.

Marshawn Lynch, Jerome Bettis, and Marshall Faulk won Super Bowls with their second NFL teams.

How fitting would it be for the Packers to take a play out of the Vikings playbook, and sign the former Viking, and win the Super Bowl this season? Remember, the Super Bowl is in the Vikings beautiful new Stadium. And remember, they have still never won a single Super Bowl.

If Peterson gets one in his first year in the enemy uniform, in their stadium, that would be the ultimate salt-in-the-wound for Grape Ape Nation.

Ted Thompson, please do it. The possible upside is well worth the risk.

Despite a down season last year, opposing defenses do not want to see this man in this jersey anytime soon. Just ask them if you think you disagree.

Despite a down season last year, opposing defenses do not want to see this man in this jersey anytime soon. Just ask them if you think you disagree.

Why Adrian Peterson and the Packers makes sense

March 25, 2017 by  
Filed under News

From John Holler,

~The idea of Adrian Peterson playing for Green Bay seems far-fetched, but so did the prospect of Brett Favre playing for the Vikings and that happened.


~Much of the last week in Packers Country has been spent trying to come up with explanations as to why Green Bay lost in the NFC Championship. As can be the habit of Packers fans, they refuse to take into account the possibility that Atlanta was the better team and would have beaten Green Bay even if the offense had a stellar day.

One of the immediate takeaways from the game, from Aaron Rodgers on up, is that the Packers would have to break from their longstanding tradition of refusing to go to the outside to add an impact free agent. As most fans are aware, Green Bay is an organization that has been constructed almost exclusively through the draft. Rare is the occasion when the Packers sign an impact free agent from the outside.

Could the Minnesota Vikings hold the key to that potential?

The next several weeks are going to determine the future of running back Adrian Peterson in Minnesota. While Peterson has made it clear he isn’t done with football, given his $18 million salary, he is more likely than not to be done as a Viking, as the team prepares to move forward with a young team in need of salary cap space. General manager Rick Spielman says he would like Peterson to finish his career as a Viking, but the reality is that there are some significant obstacles that would need to be overcome to make that happen.

While this may sound to some like a crazy offseason space-filler on a Vikings website, it’s worthy of serious consideration given the history of the Packers, the Vikings and Peterson.

For starters, you need to look at the Packer model of handling free agency. They’ve rarely dipped their organizational toe in the cold March water of big-time free agency, but, when they have, they have targeted veteran players who have earned their bone in the NFL and were regarded as having their best years behind them.

The first major splash the Packers made in free agency was in 1993, when full-blown free agency was still in its infancy. Reggie White, who was a pioneer in the battle to start free agency, was a 32-year-old defensive end whom the Eagles knew had good football left in him (plenty as it would turn out), but was quickly approaching that teams tend to balk at giving out big-money, long-term contracts – much less in the early days of free agency where big money wasn’t handed out nearly as freely as it is now.

The Packers made the move and White would go on to play six seasons with the Packers, averaging 11 sacks a year in that span and helping Green Bay win its first Super Bowl since the Lombardi era.

Green Bay wouldn’t take its next big foray into outside free agency again until 2006. Cornerback Charles Woodson had been a star in Oakland, but not only had he hit the not-so-magic number of 30 – an age when elite CBs are known to lose a step –  injuries had plagued him in recent years. He hadn’t played all 16 games in the previous four seasons and, of a possible 64 games, he had missed 22 of them – including 10 in 2005. The Raiders were unwilling to pay top dollar for a defensive back that had earned an injury reputation, but the Packers recognized talent and believed that, if Woodson could stay healthy, he was as likely to defy the odds, whether he played cornerback or safety.

Peterson has found the Lambeau Field End zone many times already. Could we see many more, this time in a Packers uniform, resulting in friendly Lambeau Leaps?

Peterson has found the Lambeau Field End zone many times already. Could we see many more, this time in a Packers uniform, resulting in friendly Lambeau Leaps?

Woodson ended up playing seven seasons for the Packers after turning 30 and, in the first six seasons, he missed just three games, leading the league twice in interceptions and bringing back nine of those picks for touchdowns.

The last time Green Bay made a splash to sign a big-name free agent with a pedigree was in 2014 when they signed edge rusher Julius Peppers. After spending eight years with the Panthers and the previous four in Chicago, there was some question as to how much gas Peppers had left in the tank at age 34. Three years and 25 sacks later, he has shown that, even age 36, he could still bring it.

Given Green Bay’s success of signing free agents that conventional wisdom would tell you were Hall of Famers on the back side of their career, it leads into the next element to the equation.

Peterson is adamant that he has not reached the cliché expiration date for running backs over the age of 30. He is going to have to accept less money because the market value for running backs has plummeted in the pass-happy era of the NFL and even former league rushing leaders like DeMarco Murray and Shady McCoy had to learn that lesson the hard way when they were due big contracts.

There has been a lot of underlying tension between the organization and Peterson stemming from the charges of child abuse from his disciplining of his son in 2014. The Vikings paid Peterson during the majority of his suspension, as fans learned that something called the Commissioner’s Exempt List was a real thing.

Bringing Peterson back in 2015 wasn’t a unanimous decision given the public relations hit the Vikings took when the charges came to light a year earlier. There were some in the front office – Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren among them – that has reservations at the time. Two years and a significant injury later, there are likely more front office types that are weighing the value of Peterson in the new-look Vikings offense against the salary he will be looking for.

If Peterson hits the open market, he will do so with a chip on his shoulder, which leads to the third piece of the puzzle – revenge.

The revenge factor can work two ways in this scenario. Peterson wants to prove to the world (again) that he is still the preeminent running back in the NFL. He did it in 2012. He did it again in 2015. With his lofty career expectations, he is convinced he can play at a high level for five more years, whether anyone else believes it or not.

You have a motivated player looking to do damage in the NFL to opposing defenses. In Green Bay, you have a team in need of a star running back and one with some deep-seeded revenge of its own in mind. Throw in that Peterson has pretty consistently owned the Packers over his decade in the NFL, he may be more attractive to Green Bay than some other teams because of the painful memories he has tattooed on the Packers coaches, players and fan base.

The Packers and Brett Favre eventually kissed and made up, but Ted Thompson hasn’t forgotten that the Vikings made a big move to sign Brett Favre. Thompson was no dummy. When he traded Favre to the Jets to make room for Aaron Rodgers to take over, he put a clause in the trade that would require the Jets to give up two first-round picks if they tried an end-run to trade Favre to the Vikings.

When New York released Favre after drafting Mark Sanchez, the Vikings signed him and stuck an organizational knife in the backs of the Packers. Who better to get their revenge with than signing Peterson and putting a Vikings icon in green and gold?

The Packers clearly aren’t far away from making a Super Bowl run. Rodgers remains one of the premier quarterbacks in the league and Green Bay has a mix of young and veteran players on defense. Eddie Lacy (a.k.a Feast Mode) is a question mark to come back and their leading rusher rusher in 2016 wore No. 88 – a number never given to someone expected to be a running back.

It may be a case of connecting dots that aren’t there, but it isn’t far-fetched given the factors in play that the Packers may end up trying to fill a need that fits in their past history of the rare over-30 free agent signing and allows Packers fans to exact a little revenge along the way.

It isn’t overly likely at this point, but there are too many signs to completely ignore the possibility.

Original article here

Packers must Significantly Upgrade Cornerbacks

March 7, 2017 by  
Filed under News

By Brian E Murphy, Packers Insider senior editor

~Aaron Rodgers carried the undermanned Packers to the NFC Championship game. True, Mason Crosby’s foot, and Jared Cook’s toes had a lot to do with taking that final step, but it was Rodgers who put the Packers’ on his back and took them to his third NFC Title game (2010, 2014, 2016).

Had the pass defense been good, or average, perhaps they would have reached the Super Bowl for the second time in Rodgers’ career. Instead of average, or even subpar, they were atrocious. It was evident in Tennessee, in Washington, in Dallas, and in Atlanta twice.  It also was apparent in Minnesota and vs Detroit in Green Bay early in the season.

Losing Sam Shields was devastating, and it had a domino effect. Letting Casey Hayward go seemed logical at the time (unless the team was aware then that Shield’ head was as fragile as a raw egg).

Now it’s quite apparent that the Packers have to significantly bolster their cornerbacks. Yes this is the case despite Head of Scouting Ted Thompson using his number one and number two picks on cornerbacks just two drafts ago.

Remember, it was just two years ago that his first pick was Arizona State ‘free safety’ Damarious Randall.

Then everyone was equally shocked when he grabbed basketball player-turned football player Quinten Rollins with the next selection.

One year ago, cornerback appeared to be a very deep and talented position for the Packers. That all changed when Shields bumped his head in week one and never played again.

Then Randall and Rollins were torched and beaten, and battered, all year long. Only Ladarius Gunter was able to stay on the field, and despite his tenacity, he with his 4.7 speed, was outmatched by the premiere superstar WR’s in the NFL like Julio Jones and Dez Bryant. Gunter cannot be faulted for this.

Thompson can. It’s time for Thompson to dip into the free agency pool and bring in an A-grade, A-priced cornerback like New England’s Logan Ryan, A.J. Bouye from Houston, or Stephon Gilmore from Buffalo.

Bette Marston: Green Bay Packers. Green Bay rarely spends big in free agency, but that makes Gilmore an even better fit. The Packers can probably get away with signing the sixth-year player for less than market value, which would bring crucial stability to the Packers’ secondary.

Bouye is 6-foot-0, 191 pounds and just 25 years old. He had a fantastic season for the Texans last year and is a strong, physical coverage corner. He could command close to $12 million a season to obtain. –I would rather spend 10-12 million on his skills (and age) than I would spend 8+ million for the aging and breaking down T.J. Lang. -Brian E Murphy

A common sight last season.

Packers CB beaten, and opposing WR into the end zone: a common sight last season.


Green Bay Packers


The Packers struggled mightily in coverage last season. Sam Shields suffered a concussion in Week 1 and missed the rest of the season; Green Bay has since released the veteran. Neither Damarious Randall nor Quinten Rollins really played up to expectations in their second seasons.

Rollins beaten was a common sight last year.

Rollins beaten was a common sight last year.

Rollins had the third-worst success rate in the NFL among qualified cornerbacks in our charting at just 36 percent, and Randall turned in a sub-50-percent season as well. Both players missed time because of groin injuries throughout the regular season, and neither was at full strength during the playoffs. The injuries and ineffectiveness forced LaDarius Gunter into the spotlight. He had a solid season for an ex-undrafted free agent who played all of eight defensive snaps in 2015, but he doesn’t look like a long-term starter.

Randall gets torched by Pierre Garcon. But it wasn't just Garcon who Randall made look like a Pro Bowler. From Stefon Diggs to Marvin Jones, Randall was often toasted during the season. His rookie season was better, but again, that was with Shields and Hayward often covering the best receivers.

Randall gets torched by Pierre Garcon. But it wasn’t just Garcon who Randall made look like a Pro Bowler. From Stefon Diggs to Marvin Jones, Randall was often toasted during the season. His rookie season was better, but again, that was with Shields and Hayward often covering the best receivers.

Essentially, the unexpected loss of Shields forced everyone else on the roster into a role for which they were not quite ready, and the end result was a porous secondary. Green Bay finished 31st in DVOA covering wide receivers, giving up the second-most passing yards and the fourth-most passing plays of 15 yards or more in the NFL last season.

Dez Bryant and Julio Jones both burned Green Bay’s defense, leading to a stretch where the Packers pathetic defense gave up 8 touchdowns in 12 possessions to end their season.

I love the battler in him, but Micah Hyde cannot be expected to run with the likes of DeSean Jackson. He was asked to last year.

I love the battler in him, but Micah Hyde cannot be expected to run with the likes of DeSean Jackson. He was asked to last year.

It’s worth noting that both Randall and Rollins played better as rookies in 2015, and there is a reason they were drafted in the first and second round, respectively. Still, entering next season with Randall and Rollins as the top two cornerbacks should make Packers fans nervous. — Bryan Knowles

Super Bowl LI: Can upstart Falcons defeat experienced Patriots?

February 1, 2017 by  
Filed under News

By Brian E Murphy, Packers Insider senior editor

~If you’re sick of the Patriots, it might be because they are almost always in the Super Bowl — seven times now since Bill Belichick and Tom Brady joined forces in Foxborough 16 years ago. That’s almost a fifty per cent rate, better than some NBA player’s free throw percentage.

The Falcons, on the other hand, have made just one Super Bowl in their history. That was their miracle 1998 season, when they won the NFC Championship game in Minnesota against the 15-1 Vikings in a tremendous upset, and come-from-behind thriller.

They went on to get blown out by the defending champion Denver Broncos, in Super Bowl XXXIII.

But this 2016-17 edition Atlanta is much different than the Falcons of 1998.

These Falcons boast the NFL’s best offense, with MVP-favorite Matt Ryan leading the way at quarterback.

In front of him, he has a fine, and luckily healthy, offensive line leading the way. They protect him well, and they run block well for the dynamic duo running backs Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman.

Freeman is a 1,000-yard rusher this season, who found the end zone on 11 runs. Coleman is faster, and led all NFL RB’s in yards per reception. He’s very dangerous.

These two combined for an amazing 24 touchdowns and over 2,400 yards from scrimmage in the regular season.

Of course, wide receiver Julio Jones is the most dangerous player on the field, from either team. He possesses a rare blend of blazing speed with size and strength and precision route-running.
And, oh by the way, he’s no diva. You won’t mix him and his antics up with Odell Beckham Jr. or Antonio Brown.

Jones isn’t the only threat at receiver for the Falcons. Taylor Gabriel, at just 5′ 8″, is even faster and capable of getting behind any cornerback.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan tosses a touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu during the first quarter in the NFL football NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan tosses a touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu during the first quarter in the NFL football NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Mohamed Sanu is another dangerous wide receiver. He’s got size at 6-2, as well as speed and good hands.

The key, in my opinion, to who wins this game will be how well Matt Ryan plays. New England will do some things that Ryan has not seen. Will he be able to figure it out? Will he have time to get the balls to his secondary receivers?

This season, playoffs included, the Falcons are only 4-4 in the games that Julio Jones goes over 100 yards. They are 7-1 in the games he didn’t. And they went 2-0 in the games Jones missed, scoring a combined 83 points in those two games.

So the only trouble the offense appeared to have was when Jones was force-fed too often.

Predictions from all over are spread across the spectrum.

Some experts thing Belichick and his defensive wizardry will be able to find a way to slow down the Falcons high-octane offense.

Remember, there have been six previous Super Bowls that pitted the top scoring offense against the top scoring defense, and the defensive team has won five of the six. That would lead one to believe New England is going to win.

So does this fact nugget: The Patriots are 12-0 in playoff history (with Belichick and Brady) when facing a team for the first time in that season. They are 12-9 in rematches of games prior. That’s either a lot of amazing coincidences, or there might be something to that stat.

The Patriots and Falcons did not play this season.
In fact, they have only met twice since Matt Ryan has been in Atlanta. Brady and the Patriots have won both games, not surprisingly.

Here’s an amazing statistic that makes the Falcons confident. They have scored touchdowns on their opening drives the past eight games.

An all too familiar sight for anyone not a Patriots fan. Will we see it again this Sunday night?

An all too familiar sight for anyone not a Patriots fan. Will we see it again this Sunday night? -Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images North America

What will happen when, if, the Patriots force the Falcons to punt on their opening drive?
The Patriots defense is much, much better than the last defense Atlanta faced, the Green Bay Packers. That defense doesn’t know how or who to cover most of the time.

New England’s breakdowns in pass coverage are few and far between. But they can occur. The key will be will Ryan see it, and will he have time to expose them?

If he does, Atlanta is capable of scoring in buckets even against Belichick. Atlanta led the NFL in scoring this year at 33.8 per game. And in their past six games, that’s up to 39 per game.

Still, it’s very hard to imagine Belichick giving up more than 30 points in a Super Bowl, even to this offense. His defensive backs will grab and hold if they’re getting beaten, and as we know, refs don’t catch them all. See the Dallas-Green Bay game in the NFC Divisional round.

One of the best things about the Super Bowl is all the available props that are available to bet on. From simple things to exotic things, there are endless wagers available.

I don’t believe the Patriots, missing Rob Gronkowski, can match the Falcons if Atlanta lights up the scoreboard for over 30 points.

If I had to put my money on a bet, I would favor Belichick and Brady’s history more than the recent trends of the Falcons offense.

Patriots 30
Falcons 27


McGinn: 2016 Packers team grades

January 28, 2017 by  
Filed under News

The Grades are in.
McGinn has completed his film review and his exit interviews.

~From Bob McGinn, Journal-Sentinel

~Following are Bob McGinn’s team grades for the 2016 Green Bay Packers season. Individual player grades for the offense, defense and special teams will be published Monday and Tuesday.


Perhaps the best way to judge a passing attack is pass average (yards divided by attempts and sacks). Just 28th at midseason, the Packers finished with a flourish to end 17th. Thus, they settled near the middle of the pack after a No. 31 finish last year and a No. 1 finish in 2014. It’s easy to forget the Packers tied for 25th in passing yards (218.9) a year ago, their worst finish since ’87. This year, they were seventh (262.4). Just 11th in passer rating (96.1) after eight games, Aaron Rodgers rebounded to finish fourth (104.2).

Losing Jordy was devastating. You cannot replace guys like him. The "next man up" talk is just coach-speak. And coach McCarthy and QB Rodgers were well aware of that. They just hoped Adams and Cobb would step up. Instead, they stepped down.  -Statistic posted by Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider, PackersMagazine, PackersNetwork

It was great to get Jordy Nelson back, and he gained steam as the season went along. Losing Jordy was devastating. You cannot replace guys like him. The “next man up” talk is just coach-speak BS. -Statistic posted by Brian E Murphy, PackersInsider, PackersMagazine, PackersNetwork

His full-season numbers (playoffs included) showed personal bests in attempts (738), completions (481), yards (5,432) and touchdowns (49). His all-game rating of 104.1 was the sixth-best of his career and his average per attempt of 7.38 was his eighth-best. Opponents blitzed on just 23.7% of passes, lowest against Green Bay in at least 20 years. The protection unit ranked 13th in sack percentage, its best finish since ’07. Of the 45 sacks, just 21½ were charged to the line and 16½ went on Rodgers. Bryan Bulaga allowed the most pressures (33). Jordy Nelson tied for fifth in receptions (97) and was sixth in yards (1,257). His 14 TDs tied for fourth; Davante Adams’ 12 tied for seventh. After snagging seven in each of his first two seasons, Adams led the team in receptions of 20 yards or more with 21. The Packers tied for 21st in yards per completion (11.0). According to Sportradar, Green Bay ranked 16th in dropped passes. Nelson and Adams shared the team lead in drops with nine; Randall Cobb had the lowest drop rate (1.9%). Cobb also led the club in average gain after the catch (5.05).

McGINNTed Thompson’s formula for success fizzles


Overweight or not, Eddie Lacy was running effectively when his season ended in Game 5 (after 166 snaps) with an ankle injury. He averaged a hefty 5.1 in 71 carries for 360 yards. At that point, coach Mike McCarthy’s run rate was 40.3%. Playing even more spread offense, the Packers rushed merely 33.6% in Games 6-19 to finish at 35.3%. It was far off McCarthy’s 41.5% rate in his first 10 seasons, which also happened to be the NFL average this season. In the end, the Packers ranked 20th in rushing (106.3), down from 12th, 11th and seventh in the last three seasons when Lacy was at full throttle.

Eddie Lacy hurt his ankle in week 6 versus the Giants. The Packers ran him down to the ground the next week versus Dallas, and his season ended with surgery as a result.

Eddie Lacy hurt his ankle in week 6 versus the Giants. The Packers ran him down to the ground the next week versus Dallas, and his season ended with surgery as a result.

Impressively, their average per carry of 4.5 (4.4 in the playoffs) came in seventh. Converted WR Ty Montgomery ranked 41st with 457 yards, lowest by a rusher leader in Green Bay since Darick Holmes gained 386 in ’98. Chipping in with 22% of the 19-game rushing total was Aaron Rodgers with a career-best 431 yards. In the regular season, his total of 369 trailed only Tyrod Taylor (580) and Colin Kaepernick (468) at the position. Rodgers, without a rush for 20 yards or more since 2012, had four. The “bad” run rate was 26.8%; Lane Taylor had a team-high 13. Utilizing a predominantly zone scheme, the Packers pulled a lineman on just 42 of their 433 rushes. Those 42 rushes, however, gained 313 yards (7.5). On T.J. Lang’s 12 pulls, the gain was 175 yards (14.6). Of the 14 rushing TDs, just three came in the first 10 games. When push came to shove, however, the Packers often failed to get the tough yard. On 21 third- and fourth-and-1 situations, they converted just 57.1% (12) on the ground.


Statistically, at least, pass rush wasn’t the problem. The Packers had 44 sacks, ranking seventh in sack percentage. The linebackers amassed 149 pressures, 19 more than ever before in Dom Capers’ eight seasons as coordinator. Nick Perry enjoyed his finest season with a team-high 36 pressures. Other productive rushers were Julius Peppers (32½), Mike Daniels (31½), Datone Jones (31½) and Clay Matthews (28½). The Packers recovered all five fumbles on their five strip-sacks. The four-man rush needed to be active because Capers blitzed on just 27.3% of passes, a far cry from 36.3% last season. When Sam Shields suffered a season-ending concussion late in Game 1, Capers soon would discover the others couldn’t cover. One year after ranking 11th in pass average, the Packers crashed to 30th. They ranked 31st in passing yards (269.3) and 26th in opposing passer rating (95.9), long a strength for a Capers-coordinated defense. The playoff results (326.0, 103.2) were even worse. Over the last six games, foes averaged 337.5 net yards passing.

Damarious Randall allowed plenty of touchdowns this season, as well as last. He helped make Adam Thielen look like Jordy Nelson, and Marvin Jones look like Marvin Harrison. Don't forget about week two in Minnesota where he tried to put Stefon Diggs into the Hall of Fame.

Damarious Randall allowed plenty of touchdowns this season, as well as last. He helped make Adam Thielen look like Jordy Nelson, and Marvin Jones look like Marvin Harrison. Don’t forget about week two in Minnesota where he tried to put Stefon Diggs into the Hall of Fame.

Damarious Randall allowed 8½ TD passes; the last Packers cornerback to give up more was Craig Newsome (10½) in 1995 (21 years ago).

LaDarius Gunter yielded eight TD passes; Gunter led the team in passes of 20 yards or more allowed with 11½. Ten receivers had 100-yard games, including four of at least 180: Marvin Jones (6-205), Adam Thielen (12-202), Stefon Diggs (9-182) and Julio Jones (9-180)Gunter Thielen 1

The Packers fought back with 19 interceptions; Ha Ha Clinton-Dix tied for fifth with five. Eight of the picks came in Games 13-14. There were 20 batted passes, nine more than a year ago and the most in Green Bay in more than 18 years. Peppers led with five.


It couldn’t last. That was obvious. Yet, it was an eye-opening way to start a season. Merely a 21st-ranked run defense last year, the Packers found themselves leading the NFL four games in with shockingly impressive yields of 42.8 yards per game and 1.99 per carry. Normalcy returned over the last 15 games as opponents averaged 110.2 and 4.58. In the end, Green Bay’s No. 8 finish (94.7) was their best since the ’09 club led the league (83.3). In yards allowed per rush, the Packers ranked 14th (4.03). There were 26 tackles for loss in Games 1-4 but just 30 in Games 5-19. Capers decided he had to play more defenders in coverage than at the line. Letroy Guion led in tackles for loss (7½) and the D-line in tackles per snap (one every 9.3). Jake Ryan paced the ILBs (one tackle every 6.9), Jayrone Elliott led the OLBs (one every 10.4) and Morgan Burnett was No. 1 among the DBs (one every 10.2). Forget about referring to the 3-4 as the Packers’ base defense; they used it just 11% of the time (136 of 1,239 snaps). Three backs, including Ezekiel Elliott twice, surpassed 100: DeMarco Murray (17-123), Robert Kelley (24-137) and Elliott (28-157, 22-125). Of the nine carries allowed that were for 20 yards or more, Mike Daniels was responsible for the most (two). The only running-back lost fumble all season was by Seattle’s Alex Collins in garbage time on a strip by Christian Ringo. Burnett led in total tackles with 108, seven more than Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Joe Thomas had the most missed tackles (13), three more than Gunter. Two years after missing 16, Clinton-Dix missed just three.


The second season with Ron Zook coordinating was adequate, and nothing more. In a 10-category statistical breakdown of special teams, the Packers finished 24th. The shining light was Mason Crosby. He beat the Bears, 30-27, at windy Soldier Field with a 32-yard FG as time expired. Then, in the divisional playoffs at Dallas, he connected from 56 with 1:33 left and from 51 as time expired for the 34-31 victory. He ranked 11th in FG accuracy (86.7%). He did miss three of 57 extra points and a 41-yard boot in Atlanta last Sunday. The new punter, Jacob Schum, ranked 24th in net (39.1). His average hang time (4.25) was better than any Packers punter has mustered in the last 17 years with the exception of Tim Masthay (4.35) in 2012. The return game was a mess. Zook rotated four players on kickoffs and three on punts, but largely because of inconsistent blocking there was just one runback for more than 40 yards (Trevor Davis, 55, punt return). The Packers also failed to use the new touchback rule to their advantage. Their opponents had the most favorable starting position (26.6) in the NFL. Jordan Todman’s two returns for 160 yards sparked the Colts’ upset victory in Game 8. Green Bay’s turnover differential was minus-1. The biggest play might have been Ty Montgomery’s blocked punt in Minnesota. The penalty leaders, with four apiece, were Kentrell Brice and Josh Hawkins. Jayrone Elliott was the tackling leader with 14 followed by Marwin Evans and Brice, each with 11. The leader in missed tackles was Elliott with three.


In the last 12 months GM Ted Thompson procured one starter (Jared Cook) and one semi-starter (Blake Martinez). Cook arrived three weeks into free agency from the Rams for $2.75 million over one year. After losing most of training camp and six games due to injury, he turned into the Packers’ best receiving TE since Jermichael Finley. Another spring “street” signing, LB Lerentee McCray, was traded to Buffalo on Sept. 3 for a seventh-round draft choice. The same day, Thompson cut Pro Bowl G Josh Sitton. Not only did the Packers weaken their line, they lost the chance for a high compensatory pick in 2018 if he walked as a free agent in March. The time to deal Sitton, assuming management didn’t want him around, was last spring, not under the pressure of final cut day. Thompson traded for his first player in six years; 12 days later, he returned RB Knile Davis to Kansas City, voiding the seventh-round tariff. In the draft, Thompson replaced NT B.J. Raji, who unexpectedly quit, by taking NT Kenny Clark with the 27th pick. He also traded up nine slots in the second round for T Jason Spriggs, who repeatedly demonstrated that he has a long way to go. As usual, the Packers assembled one of the NFL’s youngest opening-day rosters (fifth at 25.55); the Browns, the youngest (25.05), went 1-15. Green Bay started with 12 rookies before ending with a whopping 15. Excluding moves made from the PUP, injured reserve and suspended categories, nine of the 12 roster additions after the opener came directly from the practice squad. The only contributor was WR Geronimo Allison. It’s ridiculous to second-guess Thompson for his decision not to re-sign CB Casey Hayward. He didn’t make a play all last year, can’t run, isn’t physical and fits a zone team like the Chargers much better than the Packers, who feature more man coverage. Thompson, however, failed to reinforce cornerback and running when injuries struck.


The Packers and the Patriots were the consensus picks to play in the Super Bowl. New England advanced whereas Green Bay, with a team capable of winning it all for the eighth straight year, failed for the seventh time. Mike McCarthy’s team got off to one of its patented slow starts; playing Aaron Rodgers in just one exhibition game stalled the offense for weeks. The Packers’ first defeat came by three points in Minnesota after McCarthy went for it and failed on fourth and 2 at the Vikings 14 late in the third quarter. Coach-to-player communication errors were evident throughout the year. McCarthy did his best work implementing imaginative game plans and personnel groupings in the face of upheaval at running back. Back calling the plays after allowing Tom Clements to do it in Games 1-12 last year, McCarthy’s offense finally returned to its old devastating form down the stretch. The 19-game average of 4.68 gains of 20 yards (74 passes, 15 runs) or more was the club’s highest in at least 23 years. The Packers scored 65 points on opening drives, their most under McCarthy. They also scored a McCarthy-high 43 points on end-of-first-half sorties. For the fourth straight year the Packers ranked among the top 10 teams in fewest penalties. Under Dom Capers, this was a good tackling defense: the 103 missed tackles was the unit’s low since 2012. What really fueled the turnaround was turnover differential, McCarthy’s secret of success. Tied for 27th at minus-6 after 10 games, Green Bay went on a tear to finish sixth at plus-8.

OVERALL: B-minus

The season started in exhilarating style. Battling sultry weather and what was forecast to be a promising young team, the Packers received a great play from Damarious Randall on a wide-receiver screen in the final seconds to beat Jacksonville, 27-23. While far from a masterpiece, it ranked as a most happy memory when the Packers stood 4-6 after a fourth straight defeat. At that point, they were arguably the most disappointing team in the league. They also were tied for the 11th-best record in the NFC and two games behind Minnesota and Detroit in the NFC North Division. The Packers defeated the Lions, 31-24, in the finale to deny Detroit its first divisional title in 23 years. It landed the fourth-seeded Packers in the playoffs for the eighth straight season. According to Man-Games Lost, a total of 19 teams were hit harder by injury than the No. 20 Packers. Counting playoffs, they had 15 starters miss 76 games and 13 backups miss 76 games (28-152 overall). The Packers had seven players on injured reserve at year’s end; CBs Demetri Goodson and Makinton Dorleant were the two players who required reconstructive knee surgery in 2016. On offense, they improved from 28th to second on third down and from 18th to 10th in the red zone. Those gains were offset by defensive slippage on third down (ninth to 24th) and red zone (16th to 28th). The Packers were 11-7-1 against the spread. With a Super Bowl berth at hand in a building the Packers had destroyed the Falcons by 27 points six years earlier in the divisional playoffs, they weren’t even competitive and lost by 23. It ended the Packers’ winning streak at eight games and left them with a final record of 12-7.

Season-ending grades

This is the first in a three-part series grading the Packers for their 2016 season.
Original story here

« Previous PageNext Page »