Mike Neal. 2011 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

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Mike Neal
Mike Neal

1) Introduction: With Cullen Jenkins wearing an Eagles uniform, the Packers turned to Mike Neal to replace Jenkins’ pass rush and grasp of the 3-4 defense. It didn’t work out. Letting Jenkins go and relying so heavily on Neal turned out to be a rare miscalculation by Packers GM Ted Thompson, one that played a huge role in the Packers early exit from the postseason.

2) Profile:

Michael Jamel Neal

Position: DE
Height: 6-3
Weight: 294 lbs.
AGE: 24

Career Stats

3) Expectations coming into the season: Up and coming. Neal was supposed to be the next man up and fill the void left by Jenkins. After starting strong, Neal’s 2010 season was cut short due to injuries. Injuries got the best of Neal again in 2011, and the chiseled DE never came close to replacing Jenkins’ production.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Neal’s only highlight was finally making it onto the field. From there, everything else was a low-light. Neal manged just two tackles in seven games.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: The NFL allows teams to put 11 players on the field. When Neal played, it ensured that the Packers took full advantage of this rule. They probably could have put Neal on the bench and only played with 10, but that would have looked silly on TV.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Actually, Neal’s best game came against the Giants in the playoffs. It still wasn’t a good game, but it was his best game this season. I don’t think Neal’s knee was anywhere close to 100 percent when he returned and the playoff bye week probably helped him. I still think Neal can be a player if he’s healthy, but that’s a major if right now and Packers can’t rely on him to be a contributor.

Season Report Card:

(F) Level of expectations met during the season
(D) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(C) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade: D-

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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  • john driscoll austin texas

    while admitting that injuries and playing hurt are a big part of the NFL, he probably should have been placed on IR and hope for next season, we went to Raiders game and he just didnt have much power and chasing Palmer one play seemed to drag that one leg

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      A valid point, but the Packers were desperately hoping to get something out of him to help the beyond anemic pass rush.

  • ELo

    I can’t remember hearing his name mentioned once during a game. That’s great if your on the OL, not so good on defense. Neal needs to be a backup to a free agent acquisition – come on Ted!

  • Savage57

    2 concerns with Neal:

    He’s an admitted workout addict, but he might want to try more dynamic, motion related stuff to enhance his resiliency.

    Concerend that the injuries have not only affected his shoulder and knee, but that they’ve gotten inside his head, too.

    Hope he is able to realize his potential.

  • Ron LC

    Neal’s injury issues go back to his college years. Sounds like someone else we know. He better go into camp this year with a vengence. There should be a very short leash on him for 2012. The Packer D can’t waste a roster spot on someone who a) can’t tackle, b) can’t rush, and c)most important, can’t stay on the field.

    To date, he has failed miserably as a player. It’s time to do something this training camp or cut the bait.

    To date, his grade is LOSER (less than F). A high draft choice or FA should be dedicated to a DE this off-season regardless of Mr. Neal.

  • JimR_in_DC

    If the Eagles part ways with Jenkins to avoid paying for his back-end loaded contract, we should be in hot pursuit.

  • Dan

    Looks like Tarzan but fragile like Jane

  • Dan

    if TT dosn’t fill a couple of needs on D though FA we most likely will have the same D next year. It’s rare to find ‘immediate’ ‘ impact’ players picking late in rounds. Come on Ted , loosin up. its hard to repeat as SB champs and we had a great shot except you made moves like not making a offer to Jenkins after 2-3 days of no big offers in FA, signing Hawk to a grossly over paying huge contract instead of bring back Barnett, putting all your eggs in one basket with an injury prone player like Neal, etc….the window of opportunity is still here , the offense is great, now do the right thing and put a couple of FA on this D that has holes you created.

  • Tarynfor 12

    Did they get the name of that tackling dummy from practice in camp that kicked his ass so they know who Neal shouldn’t go up against again.

  • Pete kliman

    Don’t fret,drafting and some FA’s can make a big difference. Look at Houston.

  • Oppy

    There’s talk coming out of the Packers coaching staff that they are thinking about possibly asking Neal to cut weight and attempt to move him to OLB.

    No, I’m not joking, it was mentioned in an article on JSO, I believe it was a McGinn article.

    Wtf?

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      that can’t be true, can it?

      • Adam Czech

        McGinn mentioned it in his season-ending grades.

      • Thomas Hobbes

        I’m almost positive that Neal was a DT in college, I don’t think converting a 4-3 DT to a 3-4 OLB is a very easy or wise transition

  • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

    Adams’s #5 = “blistering”

  • Lucas

    Wow. That’s a lot of ripping on a guy that we have very little evidence. Our only real data on the guy is playing injured or ripping it up before that.
    That’s part of the issue, but let’s not bury a guy that could be (granted-was supposed to be) part of the fix. Judge him after he heals. And don’t give me this Justin Harrell II bologna. His name is Mike Neal. Yeah…his story sounds the same, but that is operating out of fear that he is the same. Let’s operate not out of fear (over-spend for a FA) but out of realistic improvement at every position.

  • Lucas

    Does he have the body type to lose weight? If so…a 270-275 beast that can hold the point (a ton better than Walden I would imagine) and could move an OT back into the pocket? I like the thought of that. But going from DT in college to an OLB with coverage responsibilities? HA!

  • Ron LC

    Mc Ginn mentioned? Did he get that from his infamous anonymous sources? The guy’s a waste of news print.

    • Oppy

      Ron,
      Based on this and a few other scattered posts, I’ve come to the astonishing conclusion you don’t like McGinn..

      But why? He’s one of the most respected sports writers in the biz, and has learned what he knows of the game and the people who play it from a number of NFL coaches and players over the years.

      Most consider McGinn’s word as gospel. I wouldn’t go that far, but he seems to have enough contacts around 1225 and the rest of the league that he is usually well-informed. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who dislikes McGinn’s work quite as much as you. To be honest, I love your conviction on the matter
      :)

  • Barutan Seijin

    With Harrell, there was always someone saying “Give the guy a chance”, “Let’s see what he can do before judging” and so on. Hearing the same with Neal. It’s time to find someone who can actually play.

    • Lucas

      That is exactly my point. Why are we treating him like he’s JHII? “Hearing the same” doesn’t make it the same. Healthy Neal has shown ability. Memory serves, nobody wanted a post-injury Charles Woodson. We waited on his health and it worked out.

      • Barutan Seijin

        Two can play that game: Saying he has great ability doesn’t make it so. You’re saying we should disregard his actual (non)performance and trust in your vision of his ability.

        And who is this “Healthy Neal”? Never heard of him.

        We classify him as Harrell-like because that’s what he’s shown us. The first task for any player is getting on the field. Neal can’t do that.

  • Ron LC

    You are an observant sort aren’t you. Yes,too many times he’s used that anonymous source crap to back a story that is really nothing but conjecture on his part. I prefer writters that actually do find credible sources before they publish. Mc Ginn ain’t one of them. Actually, I can’t think of any! :-(

    • Adam Czech

      You don’t even find little ‘ol me credible? I’m hurt, Ron.

      • JimR_in_DC

        LOL, Adam. As a writer, you’re worth every cent you get for these posts. :D

  • homerunsimpson

    Justin Harrell had a problem with the ligaments in his knee he couldnt fully rehabilitate from. Thats why he is “injury prone”. Mike Neal had a shoulder injury, then he fully came back! then he suffered a knee injury that obviously is not as serious as Justin Harrell. Being “prone to injury” is chance/luck, its not some defect you are born with that makes your bones more brittle or your ligaments perforated and ready to be torn. His abilities are different from his injuries. Was it his lack of ability this year, or his knee injury not fully healed? He is not Justin Harrell, and whether or not he realizes his potential has nothing to do with being “injury prone” unless he tears his ACL or something.