The final preseason game has been played, the final cuts have been made and the final 53-man roster has been set. It’s time to play football. Finally.
The Green Bay Packers head into the 2011 season with a roster led by superstars and backed up by role players that gained valuable experience filling in during last season’s Super Bowl run. Packers fans now think Ted Thompson is a personnel genius instead of a GM that is too stubborn to ever win a title. Mike McCarthy is no longer viewed as a coach that chokes away close games, he’s viewed as a coach that has the ability to turn a young roster filled with injuries into Super Bowl winners. The Packers are no longer an intriguing pick to win it all every preseason, they’re a legitimate favorite.
Unlike the stock market in America (and the rest of the world), the Packers are one the rise. If shares in the Packers were being sold on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Jim Cramer would be on your television screen nightly, pounding his fist and imploring you to BUY! BUY! BUY!
Unfortunately, we’ve all learned that the stock market can come crashing down at any moment. Just when you think you have everything figured out and you buy a bigger house, a fancier car and book that luxurious vacation, your portfolio flops and you’re broke.
The Packers portfolio is currently filled with blue chip stocks and other steady investments. But it still needs to be monitored. Which players are on the rise? Which are falling? Which are playing at a steady and consistent level? The Packers Stock Report will be a regular midweek feature here at AllGreenBayPackers.com. It’s an opportunity to step back from the game-by-game emotions and discuss how players are performing in the big picture.
Each week, I will select players in three categories:
- Rising: Playing well, and likely will continue to get even better.
- Falling: Struggling, or showing signs of a downward trend.
- Steady: Not surging up or free-falling down, just consistent and reliable.
Savvy investors buy low and sell high, but Rodgers is becoming one of those stocks, like Google or Microsoft, that keeps rising. Even though the price is already sky high, and most people can only afford a share or two, it’s still a good investment. After rising to elite status through the final six games of 2010, Rodgers threw for 375 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions this preseason. When he’s not getting sacked, he’s been unstoppable. Even if you can only afford one or two shares, Rodgers is a good investment right now.
Jersey Al was one of the initial investors in So’oto and others have followed his lead. So far the returns have been impressive with 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception in the preseason. So’oto made the final 53-man roster and with the uncertainty at outside LB opposite of Clay Matthews, he’ll probably get a shot at some playing time.
Masthay caught fire at the end of 2010 and that hot streak carried into the 2011 preseason. Packers fans aren’t used to seeing a punter launch booming punts and pin opponents inside the 20-yard line, but that’s what Masthay is doing. In four exhibition games, Masthay averaged 48.8 yards per punt and pinned seven kicks inside the 20. He’s played so well, that he’s being included in talks of Packers that could get a contract extension.
Here we go again. Investors are panicking and trying to dump their Clifton stock. It happens every preseason. Sometimes it even lasts a few weeks into the regular season. But the veteran always recovers and ends up posting a gain by the end of the season. Clifton has looked old and broken down again this preseason. Is this the year he’s finally finished? I doubt it. Clifton’s stock might be falling now, but I’d buy a few shares if I had some spare change to invest. There’s a good chance he’ll end up in the steady or rising category later in the season.
Jones is usually a good investment every preseason. Everyone remembers his boneheaded plays and forgets that he actually isn’t all that bad. Often, when everyone is down on an investment, that’s the best time to buy. But after dropping touchdown passes in the wild card round and Super Bowl, then disappearing this preseason, it might be best to spend your money on someone else besides Jones.
If you were one of the unfortunate souls that bought stock in Lee after he was drafted in the second round back in 2008, you might want to sell now and try to recoup at least a fraction of your losses. He managed to make the team, but he didn’t look all that great in doing so. I know he’s a backup and (hopefully) won’t see much playing time, but he’s a player that definitely belongs in the falling category.
Jennings has elevated himself to the upper-echelon of NFL receivers. Judging by his two back-shoulder touchdown grabs in the preseason, it looks like he’ll stay there.
Wells is overshadowed on the offensive line by guys like Clifton, Sitton, Bulaga and Sherrod, but he’s been solid throughout his entire career. The less you hear Wells’ name called, the better he is probably playing. Even though you might not hear much about his play, Wells definitely belongs in the steady category.
If the Packers are playing well, McCarthy should remain in the steady category throughout the season. You want your coach to keep an even keel, whether the team is playing well or struggling. McCarthy also deserves credit for his flexibility. When the offense struggled early in 2010 after injuries to Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley, McCarthy kept experiementing with new sets and formations to get the most out of his running game and franchise QB. He also adjusted the training camp schedule this season to make sure his players didn’t wear down before week one.