There is always opportunity for growth in a Packers organization full of youth and elite coaching. While it will be difficult for some players to top 2011 performances, there are others who have more than enough room to improve. Which Packers will be the Jordy Nelson and Bryan Bulaga of 2012?
The Packers suffered against the deep ball last season when Charlie Peprah was paired with Morgan Burnett deep instead of Nick Collins. However, Burnett has endless talent and room to improve and should be looked at as a driver of secondary production in 2012.
I was reviewing some stats from the 2011 season and one particular stat caught my eye… defensive scrimmage plays. I suddenly found myself wondering if the defense wasn’t hitting the field tired halfway through the game because the offense was scoring so fast that there really wasn’t much time for the defense to rest. Continue reading
When the Green Bay Packers announced in April the release of former Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins, many Packers fans began to think of the inevitable: is this the time Charles Woodson moves to safety full time?
A season after intercepting the most passes in the NFL while also giving up the most passing yards, there are many questions surrounding the Green Bay defensive backfield.
Will corners Tramon Williams and Sam Shields return to their 2010 level? How will Morgan Burnett perform after playing his first full season? But the No. 1 question will be at what position the Packers’ defensive captain will be at this year.
Athletic tight ends have become a hot commodity these days in the NFL. That’s why the Patriots have to be happy about locking up pro bowl tight end Rob Gronkonski for six more years at such a “reasonable” price. The Packers hit gold with the financially sound yet short-term contract they handed over to Jermichael Finley in February. However, there is a good chance that Finley will be unaffordable when his two-year contract expires.
Finley’s history of injuries and “me-oriented” playing style make the short-term nature of the contract a positive. Further, players like Finley tend to approach their peak performance around age 27, the same age Finley will be at contract expiration. So, provided with the “rental” nature of Finley’s contract, how do you manage the development of the tight end position behind Finley?
Just as offseason programs got underway, Ted Thompson and the Packers front office opted to bring back DWTS champ and aging veteran receiver Donald Driver. The decision produced mixed reactions from experts as practice squad standouts Tori Gurley, Diondre Borel and Shaky Smithson continue to wait their turn in joining the league’s premier wide receiver corps.
Driver’s resigning doesn’t necessarily shut the door to the youngsters’ hopes in Green Bay; the Packers kept five tight ends on the Week 1 roster last season and – with their emphasis on special teams – could do the same at wide receiver this season. However, any extra receiver retained shares a limited role in the offense for as long as Driver is around.
Ted Thompson’s eighth draft as Packers GM may have been the most interesting of them all, adding six straight defensive players before capping off the weekend with an O-lineman and QB. While both Thompson and McCarthy maintained the notion that selection was based on best player available, the selections fell suspiciously in line with the Packers’ direct needs. Further, Thompson traded up an uncharacteristically high three times.
The 2012 NFL schedule is out and fans are already blowing up hotel receptionists. As Mike McCarthy likes to point out, it’s not always about who you play, but when you play them. In addition to teams getting hot and cold on their own, some tend to fare better at different points of the season. Under McCarthy, the Packers have been very mediocre in the first half of the season, with the exception of 2007 and 2011.
Last season, the Packers played in five prime time games (including Thanksgiving), a tribute to being both good and an exciting team to watch. Not surprisingly, the Packers received another five prime time games in 2012, including one Monday nighter. One interesting thing to note about the Packers’ schedule is that five of their six divisional games come after the bye week.
When Green Bay Packers fans are asked what was the biggest difference between the 2010 and ’11 seasons, the most common answer is the free agent departure of Cullen Jenkins. The loss of the former starting defensive end is a hole that still needs to be filled and the 2012 draft would be the perfect time for Ted Thompson to address it.
The strength of the 2011 defensive line was starting tackles Ryan Pickett and B.J Raji, but after those two, the Packers didn’t get consistent play from any of the other defensive linemen on the roster.
It’s been quite some time since Ted Thompson hit it big on cornerback in the draft. In fact, you’d have to go all the way back to his days in Seattle where the current Packers GM endorsed the selection of Washington State cornerback Marcus Trufant. That’s not to say Thompson hasn’t built the position well – Sam Shields was quite the find in undrafted free agency – it’s just that his wins haven’t come in Radio City Music Hall.
For the most part, Ted has avoided early-round selection of cornerbacks, his only early-day pick being second-round bust Pat Lee in 2008. Thompson added Al Harris look-a-like, Davon House, in the fourth round of last year’s draft but so far has seen zero return on investment. With a fair amount of cornerback talent in the first two rounds of this year’s draft, don’t be surprised to see Thompson make a move with either the 28th or 59th pick.
Having just lost Matt Flynn to Seattle in free agency, the Packers will be faced with their first offseason since 2008 where quarterback is a relevant position to scout for heading into the draft. The Packers barely missed a handsome return on their seventh round investment in Flynn but discovered the value in developing a middle-of-the-road passer behind a great one. Expect Green Bay to draft another arm this year that can serve as insurance for Aaron Rodgers and potential trade bait in a couple of seasons.