Thursday, January 31, 2013

Donald Driver Makes His Retirement Official

I wrote a long article last week about the career of WR Donald Driver here, but he announced his retirement this morning on ESPN radio:
It's been an amazing career from an unlikely 7th round pick, but I have to agree that it's time.

Brett Favre to appear on NFL Network's Super Bowl pre-game show

Former Packers QB Brett Favre will join NFL Network's Super Bowl pre-game show coverage on Sunday.

The Network's pre-game will last 8.5 hours and begin at 8:00 am CT. When Favre goes on, he will be talking about his thoughts on the 2012 season, the Super Bowl matchup and his life away from the field.

The Super Bowl this year will be at the same site as it was in 1997, the year Favre won his only career title.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Reacting to Moss' controversial comments

If anybody saw some of the media day coverage, then they likely heard what happened with 49ers WR Randy Moss. Moss claimed that he is "the greatest receiver to ever play this game." This is not true. Moss has failed in the NFL after his prime ended, while a guy like Jerry Rice just kept going into his old years.
Here is the rest of Moss' comments:

“I don’t think numbers stand because you can talk about this and this,” Moss said. “This year has been a down year for me, statistically. The year before I retired was a down year and then in Oakland was a down year, so I really don’t live on numbers. I really live on impact and what you’re able to do out on that field.”

What do you guys think? Is he the greatest? Because I don't know anybody besides him who believes that.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Looking At The Packers' Past Draft Rankings

I'm not familiar with Draftmetrics but I read this article at National Football Post that looked at each team's draft performance over the past 5 and 10 years:
The biggest obstacle in doing an objective analysis is to select the metrics that do the best job of measuring performances. DRAFTMETRICS decided to use a weighted combination of four measures to measure each team’s draft success.
The four measures are 1) # of games started, 2) # of players active in 2012, 3) annual starts, and 4) Pro Bowl. The problem I see with it is that it rewards bad teams who draft a bunch of guys who have to start, whether or not they deserve to.

As a result, the Green Bay Packers come out pretty average: No. 9 over the past 10 years (which still includes the "awesome" Mike Sherman drafts) and No. 14 over the past five.

I don't think too much of who a team that had a great draft 10 years ago. If a team is still counting on those players, it's probably looking at a massive re-build in the near future. For example, the Chargers had a great 2004 draft but they're looking at starting over this off-season.

If you look at who's ranked high over the past five years, it's a collection of bad teams at the top led by the Chiefs, Dolphins, Cardinals, Browns, and Eagles. It looks like this evaluation is based more on quantity than quality because those young starters didn't help those teams win much in 2012.

Sometimes one great draft can make a franchise. The selection of QB Aaron Rodgers in 2005, when nearly every other team passed on him, probably should have put the Packers closer to the top of the 10 year list. The analysis by Draftmetrics seems to ignore the importance of each position. It's one thing to find guys who are good enough to start, and maybe even sneak in a Pro Bowl appearance, but it's another to find elite players at key positions who are among the best in the league.

Players defending Pro Bowl after NFC blowout win

After a week of excessive media coverage followed by a boring blowout, some NFL all-stars are actually defending the game and saying it is a nice reward for great players who don't make the Super Bowl.

"I hope we keep it here and keep it here for a long time," Minnesota tight end Kyle Rudolph said after winning Pro Bowl MVP in a 62-35 NFC win on Sunday.

Rudolph called the award the "icing on the cake" after being named to the roster and spending a week in Hawaii.

"That was the big emphasis this week, making sure that we were competitive and I think we showed that," he said.

I don't. It was another waste of three hours. Just an excuse for the NFL to make money off ratings. If I was Roger Goodell I would cancel it. But as long as people who hate it watch it, it will be played.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sanchez likely to stay with Jets

New Jets GM John Idzik confirmed this morning what the world was thinking, that Mark Sanchez will likely remain a Jet for the 2013-2014 season.

"I feel comfortable with Mark being a Jet," Idzik said on WFAN. "I told him we're going to add competition and everyone should be up for it. It's going to make Mark, and everybody else, better."

The big reason why New York wants to keep the struggling QB is because of his contract. Releasing or trading him would be a big blow to the Jets' payroll. Sanchez has a $12.8 million dollar salary cap number.

Packers Pro Bowl 2013: Did Anyone Watch It?

With QB Aaron Rodgers and LB Clay Matthews not playing in the Pro Bowl due to injuries, probably nothing that would have kept either of them out of a playoff game but serious enough to pass on an exhibition match, there wasn't much for a Green Bay Packers fan to watch. So I didn't watch it. I'm not sure who did watch it. I know all the Packers' coaches were on the sidelines, but that game has the least amount of coaching possible.
When the big story is that legacy selection C Jeff Saturday took a snap with the AFC team, and DE J.J. Watt had a bloody pinkie (he's fine), it doesn't look like I missed much. Except for a lot of scoring.

One good thing that came out of it was that RG Josh Sitton has finally made it to the Pro Bowl. He probably deserved to go after the 2010 season, but he would have skipped it because of his first Super Bowl appearance. He was the team's best offensive lineman last season and now becomes only the third guard to represent the Packers in a Pro Bowl in the last 40 years.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Is the Pro Bowl no longer relevant?

This week, Broncos QB Peyton Manning apparently made a passionate speech to the players around him to play hard in the Pro Bowl. Manning's audience consisted of just one of the five quarterbacks selected to play. Star wide receivers Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall both have opted out of the game. None of the NFC's linebackers were in attendance. Packers center Jeff Saturday was in attendance, but shouldn't be. He had such a bad season that he was benched in week 15.

With all respect to Manning, the game is ruined. The players just don't care. I would rather they just cancel it than play it another year. It wouldn't sit well with the fans, but it will probably happen someday.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Vikings' Kalil added to Pro Bowl Roster

Vikings' rookie offensive tackle Matt Kalil will play in the Pro Bowl, the Vikings announced Friday.

Kalil will be filling in for Redskins' tackle Trent Williams, who can't play due injuries he suffered in a night club altercation. Williams wasn't arrested and is currently not under investigation, said Honolulu police.

Kalil was drafted fourth overall by the Vikings in the 2012 draft and is now the seventh member of Minnesota to make it onto the Pro Bowl roster.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Clay Matthews to join CBS Super Bowl coverage

Packers LB Clay Matthews will join CBS as an analyst for the network's Super Bowl pre-game show, "the Super Bowl today."

Along with Matthews on the CBS team will be James Brown, Dan Marino, Bill Cowher, Shannon Sharpe, Boomer Esiason and Greg Gumbel. It will be live at the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.

Matthews, for the fourth time in his four-year career, was selected to the pro-bowl this season. He will not play because he does not want to risk injury.

The One Year Tenure of Jeff Saturday

Yesterday I wrote about WR Donald Driver, who's probably played his last season with the Green Bay Packers and expected to retire. Another veteran player, C Jeff Saturday, is not expected back either and he will consider retirement:
Even if he decides to play another season, it won't be with the Packers, who are expected to release Saturday. He's scheduled to make $1.35 million in salary in 2013 and is due a $1.4 million roster bonus. Saturday also has a total of $1 million in per-game roster bonuses.
Like Driver's likely departure, this should come as no surprise after he was benched in favor of C Evan Dietrich-Smith. While it hasn't happened as a member of the Packers, Saturday's had a heck of a career with six trips to the Pro Bowl (even if number six is all due to name recognition) and he was twice named first team All-Pro.

I'm still not expecting Dietrich-Smith to become the new starting center, and they should look to the draft this time for their next starter.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Looking Back At The Career of Donald Driver

While it was clear that 2012 would be the final season for WR Donald Driver as a member of the Green Bay Packers, it wasn't know what his future plans were. It looks like he's decided on retirement.
The report is a little vague, but I don't think anyone expected him to return to the Packers, so his retirement isn't a surprise. I was glad to see him return after the 2011 season, though he was no better than their No. 4 receiver, because he was still productive (see chart below). However, in 2012, he fell even further and finished behind WR Jarrett Boykin and WR Jeremy Ross on the depth chart.

Here are his career stats and rankings from Football Outsiders:
Year/SeasonReceptionsYards TouchdownsDVOA Rank
2012 8 77 2 -1.4% n/a
2011 37 445 6 17.1% 16
2010 51 565 4 -7.8% 68
2009 70 1061 6 13.3% 19
2008 74 1012 5 8.5% 25
2007 82 1048 2 9.3% 27
2006 92 1295 8 -4.4% 55
2005 86 1221 5 25.6% 3
2004 84 1208 9 12.0% 28
2003 52 621 2 5.6% 35
2002 70 1064 9 21.9% 8
2001 13 167 1 18.0% n/a
2000 21 322 1 -4.3% 47
1999 3 31 1 n/a n/a
There are a couple seasons when he wasn't targeted enough to merit a ranking by Football Outsiders, including his first and likely last seasons.

The Packers were reluctant to start Driver at first. He couldn't get ahead of WR Antonio Freeman and WR Bill Schroeder, which became especially frustrating in 2001 when Freeman and Schroeder showed how limited they were while Driver languished on the bench. Finally, Schroeder left in free agency (one of Matt Millen's genius moves), and Driver became the starter in 2002.

Looking back, he only had two exceptional seasons (2002 and 2005) despite the fact he was always a lock for 1000 yards. Part of the problem was that he was thrown the ball so often and drew so much coverage. His 2006 season, in particular, is noteworthy because he set his career high with 92 receptions and recorded one of his lowest grades from Football Outsiders. The Packers had no other receivers who could get open. While WR Greg Jennings showed promise as a rookie, a hamstring injury left him nearly useless by the end of 2006.

He's had an amazing and long career after beginning as a lowly 7th round draft choice out of Alcorn State. I hope his departure from football is amicable and he's looking forward to the next chapter in his life.

Sean Payton wants a "gracious" environment for Goodell's visit

Saints fans have been furious this past year for the punishments placed on them because of their bounty scandal. One of those included head coach Sean Payton being suspended for all of this season.

Payton has asked Saints fans to provide a "gracious" environment for Goodell when he visits New Orleans next week. We all know that this won't happen. The thing I don't get at all, is why are they mad at Goodell? They were intentionally hurting other players, so why should that go unpunished? They have no case here. They should, but won't, listen to Payton.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Look Who's Going Into The Packers Hall of Fame

It was announced that the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame will induct two former players next July: DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and K Chris Jacke.

Gbaja-Biamila was a one-dimensional player but he was really good at that dimension; rushing the passer off the edge. To his credit, he did improve as a run defender, even if he wasn't ever very good at it. From 2000 through 2007, he was the team's best or second best pass rusher. What led to his release was knee surgery in early 2008. The surgery left him without any speed to the outside. But he's not the player I wanted to talk about.

I'm a little surprised that Jacke is getting into the hall of fame. With 820 points scored, he's third all-time in points scored, so maybe it was inevitable. But it was a bit surprising he lasted until 1997 in the first place. Maybe he's being selected for his longevity instead of his talent.

The story about Jacke with Mike Holmgren's daughter sounds like a myth, but I never thought he had a lot of faith in him. Sometimes the criticism of Jacke's inconsistency was obvious. He left on sour terms when the team low-balled his contract offer, drafted a kicker to replace him, and then he felt snubbed after he wasn't invited to travel with the team to meet the President.

It's ironic that the kicker they drafted to replace him, Brett Conway, was a bust who never kicked in a regular season game for the Packers, but the replacement to the replacement (Ryan Longwell) had a long career with them and was much better than Jacke.

Junior Seau's family sues NFL over brain injuries

The family of former NFL linebacker Junior Seau sued the NFL today over Seau's brain injuries. The family claims that his suicide was the result of brain injuries he suffered while playing football.

The lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday morning in San Diego, blames the NFL for it's "acts or omissions" that hid the dangers of many blows to the head. They say that Seau's injuries were ignored and that the NFL didn't want people to know.

I'm not going to judge them for losing their loved one, but I do wish them the best. Seau's death was likely because of injuries to the head, and I can't wait to watch how the league gets out of this one.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Will Tyrann Mathieu play in the NFL?

His nickname was the Honey Badger. He was a Heisman finalist. He had fame and future fortune. But, due to a substance abuse scandal, LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu was kicked off his college team. Now, he is practicing at the Senior Bowl for a second chance in football.

The Packers are not know to have even looked at Mathieu. However, that doesn't mean that other teams haven't. There are rumors that the Jets are interested in him, which would make sense. Darrelle Revis gets hurt whenever he plays, and is getting old either way.

Mathieu won't be playing in the Senior Bowl, but is still there trying to make some friends. If Mathieu is signed, it will likely be just a one-year deal worth a small amount of money. He is past his chance to get rich.

In 2011, Mathieu had five forced fumbles, 2 interceptions, 71 tackles, and 1.5 sacks. These numbers will definitely draw some interest from scouts, but will it be enough?

Improving The Packers' Offensive Line

Overall, I was disappointed with the Green Bay Packers offensive line and thought they took a step back last season. However it's not obvious how they can improve either. While C Jeff Saturday didn't have as much left in the tank as the Packers expected and the team will again look for a new starting center, it was a step back for Lang and Bulaga too. Are they part of the problem or can we expect them to bounce back next season?

Here are the offensive line snaps from the Washington Post:
Lineman Games Started False Start Holding Sacks
Newhouse 16 1 2 10
Lang 15 1 2 11
Saturday 14 0 1 3.5
Dietrich-Smith 6 2 3 2
Sitton 16 1 3 2.5
Bulaga 9 2 3 5
Barclay 4 3 0 3.5
While LT Marshall Newhouse was second on the team with 10 sacks allowed, he actually improved last season. In 2011, he surrendered 11.5 sacks in 13 games starts and there were a couple games when he was just demolished by elite pass rushers (DE Jason Pierre-Paul is one example). He didn't have those awful games again in 2012; it was more of a slow trickle of sacks throughout the season and certainly some of those were due to the coverage. He's not an elite left tackle but he took a step forward last season.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Future For Derek Sherrod

I wanted to write an in-depth post about the Green Bay Packers' offensive line, which I see as the key to improving the running game and keeping QB Aaron Rodgers' in good health, but I haven't gotten to it just yet. In the meantime, Wes Hodkiewicz at the Press-Gazette was kind enough to inquire about former first round pick Derek Sherrod:
“I expect him to be back and competing for a spot,” [offensive line coach James] Campen said. “He was just on the cusp of doing some very good things when he got hurt. It was there and unfortunately we had the injury in Kansas City and it’s taken a little bit longer than we had thought to get ready, but we expect him to be back and ready to go.”
I'm not sure if he was really on the cusp of very good things, but his leg injury was severe and it should be something he can return from. It reminds me a little bit of the major hip injury former LT Chad Clifton suffered in his third (2002) season, however, Clifton returned to start all 16 games the following year.

At this point, with LT Marshall Newhouse and RT Bryan Bulaga apparently settled into their current positions for the 2013 season, Sherrod should be focused on getting healthy and settling into a backup role. I liked rookie RT Don Barclay as a backup player but Sherrod should be able to move ahead of him on the depth chart. The Packers will have to make a decision on extending Newhouse and/or Bulaga in a couple years and whether Sherrod is a legitimate Plan B to extending their contracts is something they'll have to evaluate next season.

Packers Guard Josh Sitton added to NFC Pro Bowl Roster

The Packers have replaced Rodgers as their third member of the Pro Bowl team. It was announced yesterday that guard Josh Sitton had been added to the roster as a fill in for 49ers G Mike Iupati. Iupati was on the roster as a starter but can't play because his team is in the Super Bowl.

This is Sitton's first Pro Bowl appearance, though he has been an alternate in the past. Sitton will be being coached by his normal coaches, as the Packers' staff is running the NFC team for the second straight year. The Pro Bowl will be played January 27.

Sitton started every game for the Packers this season. He started all sixteen regular season games and both playoff match-ups.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Donald Driver awarded his own day

Donald Driver, thanks to his great play for many years in Green Bay, has been given his own day by the Brown County board of supervisors. Driver was honored with his own day on Thursday, January 17.

The announcement came Wednesday night at one of the board's meetings. They also read this statement from Driver, who was not present.

“It is truly an honor to have January 17, 2013, become Donald Driver Day. I will always appreciate the special relationship that I share with Green Bay Packers fans, and I have so many incredible memories of my time spent in Green Bay and Brown County. I look forward to remaining a fixture in the community here for many years to come! Thank you to the Brown County Executive, Chairman, and Brown County Board of Supervisors for this proclamation. God bless, and Go Pack Go!”

Here is the official proclamation from Brown County:


Donald Driver

WHEREAS, Donald Driver, a.k.a. “Double D”, has been sporting number 80 with the Packers for 14 seasons, while earning a Super Bowl Championship, four Pro Bowl Selections, becoming the all- time leading receiver for the Packers, and recently receiving the coveted mirror ball trophy on the 14th season of ABC network program, “Dancing with the Stars; and

WHEREAS, Donald is no stranger to setbacks but yet continues to move forward in making a difference in people’s lives by donating his time and efforts to organizations such as the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and Goodwill Industries; and

WHEREAS, in 2000 Donald along with his wife Betina created the “Donald Driver Foundation,” focusing on minimizing the challenges of homeless families and lack of education, along with donating to a variety of other charities, providing motivational speeches, writing children’s books, and offering assistance to those in need; and

WHEREAS, Donald has been recognized for his contribution to his communities by receiving the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 2002, the only off the field community service awarded by the NFL , the Community Service Award in 2001 by Green Bay Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Ed Block Courage award by his teammates; and

WHEREAS, when Donald is not spending time with his family, on the field or giving back to his community you will find him on his TV show Inside the Huddle, hear him on one of Milwaukee’s number 1 rated A.M. radio stations, or even managing his endorsements with top organizations such as Wisconsin Department of Transportation, McDonalds, Goodwill Industries and others; and

NOW, THEREFORE, We, Troy J. Streckenbach, Brown County Executive, Patrick Moynihan, Chairman of Brown County Board of Supervisors, along with the Brown County Board of Supervisors recognize Donald Driver and his overwhelming generosity to our community. And call onto all citizens to acknowledge and emulate his positive thinking and commitment to the community as a whole.

And do hereby proclaim Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, as a day of recognition as

Donald Driver Day

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Magazine publishes rare photos from Super Bowl I

As all Packer fans know, the first Super Bowl was between the Packers and Chiefs. The game was played January 15, 1967. The Packers easily won the game, then called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game, 35-10. There has always been photos from the game available, but thanks to Life Magazine, we now have many more. Most of them are boring, but some are cool. Here are some of my favorites:

Friday, January 18, 2013

Something to do when you're bored

Hey GBPB readers, think of this as a message to you guys. Obviously, today has been boring in Packer Nation. Nothing interesting has really happened. So, I thought I'd try to shed some light over here. So here's what I'm doing:

First, I'm gonna give you guys some links to recent Packer stories that showed up today on the Packers section of the "24-7 Football" app.

Title: NFC North links: Marinelli, Tice move on
By: staff
Blog: - NFC North Blog
Time: January 18, 2013 10:00 AM CT

Title: Packers Recent Playoff Games: Turnovers Are the Key
By: Evan Western
Blog: ACME Packing Company
Time: January 18, 2013 9:05 AM CT

Title: Appreciating Organizational Stability: Why We're Spoiled as Packers Fans
By: Evan Western
Blog: ACME Packing Company
Time: January 18, 2013 12:00 PM CT

Hope you like those stories.

The second and final part I'll post here before I go to bed will be a question:

What was your favorite memory from the 2012-2013 Packers?

Leave your responses below. Good night.

The 2013 NFL Draft: Packers At No. 26 Overall

The 2012 NFL season continues on for a couple more weeks, but obviously it's over for the Green Bay Packers. Having said that, I started following the college scouting news:
The East-West Shrine Game is happening this weekend and I'm sure the Packers' will have their scouts in attendance for the game and this week's practices. Maybe GM Ted Thompson too. It's too hard to read the tea leaves on who the Packers are really interested, but there's no doubt that players help or hurt themselves in these all-star games.

I also read my first 2013 mock draft in a while. Currently it's Alabama C Barrett Jones as one option and Georgia LB Alec Ogletree as another. There isn't a glaring this year for the Packers, but they really need to find players who can push the returning starters on the offensive line and the defensive front seven, so both Jones and Ogletree fit that requirement.

Any initial draft thoughts?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rodgers doesn't want to run read-option offense

The Packers were just demolished in the NFC Divisional playoff by a San Francisco team who often ran a read-option offense. But despite watching the Niners' success, Rodgers doesn't believe the read-option will work for his team.

“I think the league is cyclical and things can come back around that were being used 20, 30 years ago. But this too will pass,” Rodgers said on his weekly radio show on 540 ESPN and “Some of the pistol read-option stuff will eventually pass. Now, that may not be for 10 more years.

“The athletic quarterback I don’t think is going to pass at all. I think you’ve seen a trend of more and more guys who can make plays when the pocket breaks down and extend plays, who are also good passers. I think you’re going to continue to see that; we’ve seen a lot of that the last few years especially. . . .

“But I think that as we saw five years ago with the wildcat stuff – it had its success and less and less people are doing it and now. It’s more of the zone-read stuff – reading the end or keeping it and pulling it with a quarterback who has some athleticism. At some point, on some level, they’re going to figure out how to consistently stop that, and then that will make its way up to the NFL. Or, enough for these (quarterbacks), who are going to be franchise guys if they’re not already, may take some unnecessary shots or decide that they’d rather stay in the pocket and throw it then rush the ball 15 times a game. And then you can kind of see it gradually go in the other direction, I think.”

Rodgers has run the ball before but doesn't often. He is definitely athletic enough, but after watching what happened to Robert Griffin III, I don't know if I want him to. He has a great arm that I want to protect. If he was to go down with a serious knee injury, who would replace him? The Packers can't afford to lose him, so playing a read-option may be a gamble that they can't afford.

The only thing that they should care about is to improve defense against the read-option. They lost to the 49ers because of their bad play in those situations, so they need to fix that. They will during the offseason, but if the QB doesn't want to run a specific offense, then the team likely won't make him.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tom Clements likely to return as Packers offensive coordinator

Earlier today, the Bears hired CFL coach Mark Trestman as their new coach. Before interviewing Trestman, the Bears interviewed Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements. Clements did interview and appeared to want the job, but must've been not good enough.

But Clements didn't exactly seem eager to leave Green Bay, either. The Green Bay Post Gazette's Wes Hodkeiwicz talked with Clements today, and tweeted this:

Out of running to be Bears' head coach, #Packers OC Tom Clements on if he'll be back next year: "Absolutely." Any other HC offers? "Nope"

— Wes Hodkiewicz (@WesHod) January 16, 2013

I except Clements to become a head coach somewhere at some point in his career, but obviously not next year. He gave us a clear answer and now the Pack can forget that. They will not lose their OC.

Marc Trestman To Coach The Bears?

The biggest coaching news is Chip Kelly to the Eagles and it's going to overshadow what the Bears have done for the rest of this week, but obviously whatever the Bears are doing has a lot more impact on the Packers:
Briefly as to Chip Kelly, I think he's in for a major overhaul in Philadelphia. Any coach they hired was in for a big challenge. The Eagles are a veteran team that looked awful on both sides of the ball. They already have a lot of holes to fill and they're probably going to part ways with several of their under-performing, over-paid veterans, which will only create more openings on the roster. We may not see what Kelly can really bring to the table for a couple seasons, until he gets figures out which players work best with his offensive scheme and most importantly at quarterback.

Back to the Bears. Marc Trestman? I've heard about this guy for the past couple decades as an offensive whiz who never lived up to the hype which is why he's spent the last few years coaching in the CFL. He's not someone who's been able to prove that he belongs in the NFL.

I thought it was a joke that teams were even interviewing him and I'm stunned that the Bears actually hired him. Maybe he's matured and improved on his previous shortcomings, but generally I think less of NFL coaches as they age. Kevin Seifert has a post explaining all the reasons why Trestman was hired with many of his supporters listed, and also a caveat:
You would be excused for a double-take after reading those names. Grant retired for good in 1985. Kosar has been out of the NFL for 17 years. Young's last season with Trestman was 1996. Mitchell last played in 2001. Today's NFL players probably view Gannon, the league's MVP in 2002, as a television analyst more than a contemporary. 
In an industry in which teams are always looking for the next great head coach, Trestman was passed over repeatedly and without fail. His NFL success dates back to a long-gone era in a fast-moving league. 
In general, I don't think much of re-tread coaches. This would have been similar to the Bears hiring Mike Holmgren, except Holmgren actually took two different teams to the Super Bowl as a head coach while Trestman couldn't even get an NFL head coaching job at the height of his reputation in the 1990s.

The Bears are obviously looking for a much needed infusion of offensive wizardry, which is probably why they interviewed Tom Clements too. I'm not sure about Clements as a head coach, but the Packers would probably have to had brought someone in from the outside to offset the loss of two offensive coordinators in two years. Bears' GM Phil Emery was so excited about the hiring of Trestman that the press release came out at 4 a.m. CST so he's certainly intrigued by what Trestman can do for his team's offense. However, the Bears still had a number of underperforming players on their offensive line, at receiver and at tight end, so Emery now has to focus on upgrading the players Trestman will be coaching next season.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Rodgers won't play in 2013 Pro Bowl

Due to an injury, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will miss the Pro Bowl. Rodgers announced the decision on his weekly radio show.

Rodgers provided a great lack of details as to what the injury is, but it likely isn't serious. He did, at one point, mention an ongoing ankle injury. That is a possibility as he has been nursing his ankle since injuring it way back in Week 6 when the Pack were in Houston.

Rodgers is one of three Packers to make the team this year, along with LB Clay Matthews and C Jeff Saturday. Alternates will be announced later this week, giving the Packers a chance to add more players onto the NFC Roster.

The Packers 2013 Salary Cap Situation

I see different numbers every time I read an article about the Green Bay Packers' 2013 cap situation, but the basics remain the same. Here's what Bob McGinn wrote back in September:
The way it stands now, there are 20 players under contract to Green Bay for next year [2013] who are to count about $98.36 million. The unadjusted cap for 2012 is $120.6 million, and projections are that the cap will remain almost flat until 2016.
The most notable free agent is WR Greg Jennings, who should receive a similar contract to WR Marques Colston (5 years, $40 million, $19 million guaranteed) from either the Packers or another team. If they really wanted to keep Jennings, they shouldn't have a problem for next year. The big problem is what happens after 2013:

Monday, January 14, 2013

What GM Thompson said about the departure of John Dorsey

As most of Packer Nation already knows, longtime Green Bay executive John Dorsey recently left the team to become the new GM of the Chiefs. Dorsey will have a lot of work on his hands as he prepares to deal with a 2-14 team. But, he helped the Packers become a consistent winner. Perhaps he can do the same in KC.

Packer GM Ted Thompson released this statement;
“I would like to thank John Dorsey for his 27 years of service to the Green Bay Packers. First as a player, and later as a member of the personnel department, John has been a loyal member of the Packers family and the Green Bay community for more than half of his life. The Chiefs have hired a good man and John has earned this opportunity. We wish John and his family all the best.”

Dorsey is replacing Scott Pioli, who had the job the past four years. Under Pioli, the Chiefs went just 23-41, with a division title in 2010. Dorsey worked in Green Bay while Andy Reid was an assistant. Reid is now the Chiefs' head coach.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

What To Do With The Playoff Defense: Dom Capers Edition

There's plenty of blame to go around after the Green Bay Packers watched their defense get torched by the 49ers and defensive coordinator Dom Capers should not be excluded. However, he's not one on the field and there's only so much a defensive coach can do without good players. I didn't think last Saturday night was a case of players looking confused or not being prepared; it looked like a bunch of players getting their backside kicked.

After the 2011 season, I wouldn't have been surprised to have seen the Packers fire Dom Capers. The defense had been awful all season and played bad against the Giants. His group bounced back in 2012, but it's hard not to notice how bad the Packers' defense has played during the playoffs in three out of four years under Capers.

2009 loss to the Cardinals. As bad as it seemed against the 49ers, I felt that their defense played even worse against the Cardinals that season. The Packers actually forced a couple punts by the 49ers, but I had no belief that the Packers could stop the Cardinals at any time. It was all the more shocking because the Packers entered the game with the 2nd best defense in the NFL. The good news is that the defense rebounded strong in 2010 after such a hopeless playoff performance.

2011 loss to the Giants. This is the most forgivable loss since it had more to do with all the turnovers on offense than a defensive collapse. But they still allowed the Giants to score 37 points on offense and did little to stop any Giants player. Also, the inexcusable touchdown in the end zone at the end of the first half.

2012 loss to the 49ers. I'll assume you clearly remember this one. They couldn't stop the 49ers from converting 1st downs (29 overall) on the short plays and couldn't prevent the big plays either.

I don't know if this means Capers should be fired. He looked out-coached and undermanned against the 49ers but it's only one game. It doesn't mean his overall scheme is bad or he isn't a good coach to his players. If Mike McCarthy decides in his year-end review that it's time for a defensive coaching change, I'd understand it. If he keeps Capers, I'd understand that too. Maybe a better coach is the answer, but I know that improving the quality of players on defense has to be part of the solution.

What The Packers Lost In John Dorsey

Upgrading the defense just got a bit harder when the Chiefs hired John Dorsey to be their new GM. The Journal-Sentinel has all the reasons why it's a dream job of sorts for him (he's good friends with Andy Reid and his wife's from Kansas) and why he took it over even never interviewing for other GM positions in recent years. 

While his title is director of football operations, he was only promoted last year when Reggie McKenzie was hired by the Raiders to become their GM, and he had been in charge of college scouting for the past decade. Obviously, that time period has featured a lot of great drafts. If the Packers do promote from within then Eliot Wolf might be the new right hand man for GM Ted Thompson but he's far from the most experienced candidate.

However, I could see them bringing in someone to replace Dorsey. The Packers have now seen three top executives depart for GM positions in recent years (Dorsey, McKenzie, and John Schneider in Seattle) and that's a lot of talent to lose. They might need to add an experienced someone from outside the organization to help them make up for all they've lost.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Playoff Loss: 49ers Offense Run All Over The Packers

So ends the Green Bay Packers' season with a playoff blowout loss in San Francisco. I expect the defense is still getting spun around like a top as they try to watch QB Colin Kaepernick walk out of the stadium because he has that effect on them.
The Packers had other problems in this game. The offense needed to step up when the defense was struggling. WR Jeremy Ross fumbled a punt return. CB Tramon Williams was burned all day by WR Michael Crabtree. But the only thing that really mattered was that the Packers' defensive front seven was physically beaten by 49ers' offensive line and the linebackers couldn't contain Kaepernick in the running game.

Even LB Clay Matthews had a bad game, though he did record their lone sack and knocked down an apparent touchdown pass, so he was still their best player by far up front. All the linebackers played as hard as they could but they were just overmatched and completely fooled by all the option plays.

If the defense could have collapsed the pocket and trapped Kaepernick in it, then this would have been a different game. DE Mike Neal has received some good press lately for his late season play and his 4.5 sacks, which are second on the team, but the fact that he was second on the team in sacks is a problem in itself. He isn't good enough to be their number two pass rusher. Neal ended the playoff game with no recorded stats (no sacks or tackles). NT B.J. Raji didn't record a stat either. That doesn't mean both players should be released, but this game showed what happens when arguably their top two defensive lineman have no impact.

The Packers used their top five draft picks last April on defensive players after they gave up more yards than any other defense had in NFL history (until the Saints took the crown away). After watching Kaepernick run for more yards than any NFL quarterback had ever run in any single game, it's apparent that they're not done re-loading the defense.

It's a sour note to a solid season, one in which the defense bounced back from a disastrous 2011 and they won the NFC North after a 2-3 start. They won a playoff game, which is an accomplishment in it's own right and isn't something that happens every year. The good news is that QB Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy are not going to be content with a very good season and it won't be too long until they start working hard on another Super Bowl run.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Playoff Preview: Packers at 49ers

The 49ers are known for their running game, running quarterback, and a dominant front seven defense. The Packers are known for their big play offense, MVP quarterback, and a solid defense led by LB Clay Matthews. Neither is an extreme passing or running team, but they are as different as any two teams in the NFL.

However, their results have been almost identical this season. Football Outsiders has the 49ers ranked as the 4th best team this season, and the Packers are just a couple percentage points behind at No. 5. Both teams enter the game in relative good health. The ongoing leg injuries of WR Jordy Nelson will probably keep him less than 100% and DE Justin Smith should be limited by a torn tendon that will require surgery in the offseason. Smith's injury has the potential to make a bigger impact, and the 49ers have played worse since he suffered the injury mid-game against the Patriots, but I don't want to take anything away from the rest of their team. The odds makers have the 49ers as favorites by 2.5, which essentially rates the game as a push while giving the 49ers a slight home field advantage.

Looking back over the last eight games, also known as the QB Colin Kaepernick era, here's how the 49ers have fared:
Opponent Scored Allowed Result Opp. Win Per. FO Rank
Rams 24 24 T 0.469 15
Bears 32 7 W 0.625 6
Saints 31 21 W 0.438 19
Rams 13 16 L 0.469 15
Dolphins 27 13 W 0.438 21
Patriots 41 34 W 0.750 3
Seahawks 13 42 L 0.688 1
Cardinals 27 13 W 0.313 26
Total 208 170 5-2-1 0.524 13
They played a pretty strong schedule of opponents and came away with a winning record. Their results were better in the first half of the season, but it also included a couple of blow outs against the Jets and Bills, so their points scored and against were much better than they were against actual playoff teams.

Here's how the Packers did over the same time period:
Opponent Scored Allowed Result Opp. Win Per. FO Rank
Cardinals 31 17 W 0.313 26
Lions 24 20 W 0.250 16
Giants 10 38 L 0.563 7
Vikings 23 14 W 0.625 14
Lions 27 20 W 0.250 16
Bears 21 13 W 0.625 6
Titans 55 7 W 0.375 30
Vikings 37 37 L 0.625 14
Total 228 166 6-2 0.453 16
The overall results are more impressive but padded by a blow out against the lowly Titans. Swap out an average NFL team for the Titans, and the Packers played a similar quality of teams as the 49ers over their last eight games.

The comparisons run even deeper. While the Packers looked awful against the Giants, so did the 49ers against the Seahawks, and each team has a bad road loss in their ledger. The Packers didn't shine against lesser teams like the Cardinals and Lions, but the 49ers had two unimpressive games against the Rams. You can pick a favorite, but it would be hard to find two remaining playoff opponents with similar second half results.

Any prediction is a coin toss at this point. This looks like a game where one team will set the tone. Maybe as LB Wayne Simmons did with a huge forced fumble as the Packers beat the 49ers in 1995 playoffs. Look for the team who strikes first to have a huge advantage in this game. Otherwise, I expect it will be close.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

How The Secondary Looks With Charles Woodson Back

Last week, I was wondering who would lose playing time in the Packers' secondary once CB/S Charles Woodson returned from injury. It looks like the rookie, S Jerron McMillian, was the odd man out:
I've been impressed with McMillian, who was a relative unknown when the Packers selected him out of Maine in the 4th round. He's adapted quickly to the speed of the NFL in his first season. But I'd be hard pressed to make the case that right now he deserves to play ahead of Woodson.

Based on snap counts, via Football Outsiders, McMillian has been one of their biggest contributors this season:

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Who Has The Advantage This Weekend?

This post was written by Jack Niemuth, an aspiring sports writer who roots for the Packers and asked to write for the Green Bay Packers Blog. Hopefully it will be the first of many. Brandon

The Packers, coming off their nice wild card win over the Vikings, will head to Candlestick Park to face the 2 seeded 49ers. Although this game should be in Green Bay(Week 3's Seahawks game), the Packers will still have to play hard and hope they outscore San Fran. As always, the home team has an automatic advantage. But I still have faith that the Packers can pull it out. Here I've pointed out some advantages and disadvantages that the Pack have this weekend:

First, the enemy. The 49ers will be playing on a field where they went 6-1-1
this year. They obviously know how to play football, so the location doesn't help. The Packers will need to deal with the boos. This isn't Lambeau.

Another disadvantage would be the Pack's rush defense again Frank Gore. Gore doesn't have very many 100+ yard games this season(3), but he did have 112 yards in the 49ers week 1 win in Green Bay. The Packers had a lot of trouble stopping Peterson in week 17 and gave up a few big plays last week as well. I think they've improved, but it could still be a problem.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

How Might The Playing Field At Candlestick Hurt The Packers?

Via Pro Football Talk comes this link to Bay Area Sports Guy on the lousy playing field at Candlestick Park. After watching FedEx Field turn into a muddy swamp last weekend, which may have been the cause of two ACL injuries (QB Robert Griffin III, Seahawks DE Chris Clemons), I want to see a decent playing surface for next weekend's game. From Bay Area Sports Guy:
Pardon the pun, but this isn’t exactly groundbreaking news. The last time I was on the field — before the Dolphins game — I was surprised at how the grass was coming up in clumps during warmups...
The weather forecast this week calls for colder than average temperatures starting on Wednesday, but nothing much in the way of precipitation. That’s good for the both teams, because the last thing they need is for Candlestick’s crummy field to turn into a swamp.
While a bad playing surface is a problem for both teams, and on both sides of the ball, QB Aaron Rodgers has generally preferred playing inside under ideal conditions. His overall record in dome games hasn't been great, but his recent record had been until their recent loss in Minneapolis. His stats have been outstanding too and his receivers prefer it. Though Rodgers is "excited to go back to Cali to play" he probably would have preferred the playing conditions inside the Georgia Dome next weekend.

However his preference might have little relationship to the actual results. On December 16th, he passed for 291 yards and 3 touchdowns (QB rating 116.8) against the Bears on Soldier Field's notoriously bad playing surface. That game, despite the absence of LB Brian Urlacher and CB Tim Jennings to injury, might have been a good preview of what to expect next weekend against the 49ers. While the Niners' defense has been great this season, second best according to Football Outsiders, the Bears' defense was their No. 1 defense last season by a wide margin.

Monday, January 07, 2013

On B.J. Raji's Snap Counts This Season

Here's an interesting stat from Kevin Seifert at ESPN:
The most obvious non-injury reduction in playing time happened with nose tackle B.J. Raji. After playing more than 80 percent of the snaps last season, Raji has been on the field for 59.2 percent this season -- a significant difference of 238 snaps. He missed two games because of an ankle injury, but his snap totals would have been down even if he had played both at his regular rate.
After relying on him far too much in 2012, the Packers have seemed to learn from their mistakes.

Looking Back At The Packers' Win Over The Vikings

The one note of caution for the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks is believing that they have momentum going forward into next weekend. The Vikings were playing without an NFL quarterback and Deadspin has the GIFs to prove it. The Redskins showed what they can do when QB Robert Griffin III is healthy by scoring two touchdowns on their first two possessions, but he re-injured his knee on that second touchdown drive and then vanished for the rest of the game.

Football Outsiders seemed to be a little down on the Packers after their win because QB Joe Webb is beyond awful as a pocket passer and they coasted after building a 24-3 lead that was insurmountable against any offense led by Joe Webb.

Pro Football Focus was negative on both the teams' offensive lines and especially down on C Evan Dietrich-Smith. I think the Packers are well aware of Dietrich-Smith's limitations, PFF said "he was completely man-handled in the run game", and it's why they signed free agent C Jeff Saturday in the first place. When the Vikings knew that the Packers were going to run out the clock, Dietrich-Smith couldn't get a push at the point of attack. But when there aren't eight men in the box, he's better at moving down field and blocking linebackers, which is why I expect the Packers will stay with him over Saturday again next week.

PFF also noted that LB Erik Walden, while making a few big plays, also got beat a lot of the time. I praised Walden after the game for making big plays, and that's really the best that can be expected from him. He has to make the highlight reel when the opportunity presents itself. If he were able to hold up on every snap, then the Packers wouldn't have drafted LB Nick Perry, wouldn't rotate LB Dezman Moses with Walden, and Walden would have kept his starting job after last season. He's a limited player and the Packers got the best they could have hoped from him against the Vikings.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Packers Defeat Vikings 24-10, Play Next Week at 49ers

After the Green Bay Packers took a 24-3 lead on a touchdown drive to open the second half, they seemed to put it on autopilot. It was understandable because the Vikings did little on offense with QB Joe Webb. But they made their offense hard to watch with five punts on their final five possessions. On defense, a late-game blown coverage left Vikings WR Michael Jenkins wide open for a 50 yard touchdown pass. However, the Vikings never mounted a serious charge and the win was a big relief after a tough loss last week in Minneapolis.

As for why QB Christian Ponder couldn't gut it out with an arm injury, read what Judd Zulgad tweeted.

One player I was glad to see have a big game was FB John Kuhn. He didn't play as well this season, after making the Pro Bowl in 2011, and his fumble last year against the Giants really hurt them. So for him to come out and score two touchdowns was a big bounce-back performance.

The offense was outstanding, QB Aaron Rodgers in particular, until their second half swoon converted only one first down in their final five possessions. Part of the reason was their run-heavy play calling, as they apparently tried to run some clock after going up by 21 points. The offensive line had some shaky moments, but they also gave Rodgers a lot of time to throw and he made plays when they did.

The defense did a much better job of bottling up RB Adrian Peterson with DT B.J. Raji's stout inside presence and LB Erik Walden's monster game on the outside. Webb's accuracy was so bad in his first playing time of the season that it's hard to give the secondary too much credit, but they played well except for the blown coverage on Jenkins' touchdown. Overall. it was good practice for next week when they face a run heavy 49ers team with their own mobile quarterback.

Injuries To Ponder and Winfield Might Be The Key To The Packers Playoff Game

My prediction was that if the Green Bay Packers stop QB Christian Ponder then the Vikings have almost no chance of winning. Here's what Bill Barnwell wrote at Grantland:
So if we assume that Peterson and Rodgers have productive days, it feels like the game falls on the shoulders of Christian Ponder. Ponder had just about the best game of his career on Sunday, and the Vikings were only able to win by three. Ponder went 16-of-28 for 234 yards with three scores and no picks, notably hitting Jarius Wright with a perfect 65-yard bomb up the seam.
CB Antonie Winfield's broken hand is another major concern, he was only able to play until halftime last week and QB Aaron Rodgers torched his replacement, but Ponder's the key. And the elbow injury he suffered last week on a hit by S Morgan Burnett might either limit him or keep him out of the game. From Kevin Seifert at ESPN:
I did a little snooping this evening, and here's what I can tell you: Ponder's injury is more than a simple bump or bruise, but if there is real concern about his ability to play, it's being kept well under wraps. The injury might be significant enough for the Vikings to have No. 3 quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson in uniform for the first time this season, but it would be a real surprise if Ponder doesn't start, as ESPN's John Clayton reports
His replacement would be QB Joe Webb, who's only taken 3 snaps this season and more of a threat as a runner than a passer. He might bring a new dynamic to the game, but Ponder's a good threat to run in his own right, so I don't think the Packers' defense would have to adjust much to Webb. Without any game reps, and probably few first team reps all year in practice, Webb's already questionable accuracy would have to be rusty. Plus, I don't think any NFL team should expect to win without the ability to pass under any circumstances.

The Packers have been dealing with their own injuries (CB Tramon Williams has been sick this week, WR Jordy Nelson has a bad knee, and WR Randall Cobb is coming back from an ankle injury) but all three should play on Saturday night. The Vikings would have been at a disadvantage if everyone is healthy, but injuries to Ponder and Winfield might cripple their passing offense and defense.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Packers vs. Vikings: The Return of Charles Woodson

When QB Aaron Rodgers was asked about the importance of the bye week, his first comment was that it would give more time for CB Charles Woodson and WR Randall Cobb to get healthy. Luckily, it's worked out for both players and they've been cleared to play on Saturday.

My first thought was that I didn't know how they were going to use Woodson. I don't think he'll take playing time away from any of the cornerbacks. He should replace rookie S Jerron McMillian, who's been taking over Woodson's duties as the hybrid defensive back/linebacker that Woodson has been lining up as on passing downs, and replace S M.D. Jennings at starting safety on early downs.

Cobb was injured while returning a punt against the Titans, so maybe it's for the best if Cobb only plays on offense, where they might be without WR Jordy Nelson and WR Jeremy Ross returns kicks/punts. I wasn't expecting much from Ross when the Packers signed him off the practice squad in early December because there's usually something wrong with their undrafted receivers. They're either too slow, too small, or have bad hands, but Ross seems to be the exception. His 40 time was a little slow at 4.45 coming out of college, but Ross can accelerate through an opening like the best of them. And at 215 lbs., arm tackles aren't effective against him.

Fortunately, LB Clay Matthews is only a little stiff after taking one of the more violent non-injury hits I've seen in a while. While he was airborne, he took a shot and his spine was slung like a whip as he fell to the ground. But Matthews said his spine is fine and nothing was injured internally.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Three That Need To Improve: Barclay, Williams, and Hayward

Pro Football Focus ran it's weekly re-focused game reviews of the Green Bay Packers loss to the Vikings. The first two players are no surprise, but the third one only made one mistake.

RT Don Barclay. At best, he's their third option at right tackle, so the expectations shouldn't be high, but he either needs a good week of practice or some help from a tight end on Saturday. While Mike McCarthy prefers to let his tackles work one-on-one, he's been known to give a young tackle help with a chip block. The other option is to move T.J. Lang back to right tackle, however, it's not like he's been exceptional out there either. Also, I don't think they'd want to re-shuffle the line (again) for a playoff game.

CB Tramon Williams. Dom Capers' defensive scheme often crowds the middle and makes the opposing offense look for success running off-tackle, where the defender can either make the tackle or force the defender out of bounds. The catch is that he requires his cornerbacks to tackle, and Williams had an exceptionally bad run grade last Sunday. It wasn't just one bad play. Also, he was in on the missed tackle during RB Adrian Peterson's 82 yard touchdown run back in early December at Lambeau. I don't know if he can transform into a new player in one week, but he needs to work on the fundamentals.

CB Casey Hayward. He only had a slightly negative ranking, his first PFF negative since Week 9, and it was almost entirely due to his missed coverage on the 25 yard pass play to WR Michael Jenkins on third down. If he could have defended that pass, it would have ended the Vikings' game winning field goal drive. It looked like a classic rookie mistake from a rookie corner. It was only one bad play and he'll have a chance to make up for it with a big play or two next Saturday.