29

January

Mike Neal 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Green Bay Packers, Mike Neal, Packers evaluations, Packers report card, Mike Neal report card1) Introduction: Eyebrows were raised during training camp when it was revealed that the Green Bay Packers were giving Mike Neal, formerly a defensive end in their 3-4 defense, a shot to perform at outside linebacker.  After years of showing potential only to be derailed by some sort of an injury, Neal was a man on a mission in training camp and was determined to prove what everyone thought about him (when healthy) was justified.  Moving Neal to outside linebacker seemed like a crazy move but given how badly the Packers needed a pass rush, they were willing to try anything

2) Profile: Mike Neal

  • Age: 26
  • Born: 06/26/1987 in Gary, IN
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 285
  • College: Purdue
  • Rookie Year: 2010
  • NFL Experience: 4 years
  • Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: Even before the news about moving Neal to outside linebacker, this was shaping up to be a make-or-break year for him.  He missed all but nine games his first two years in the league and was considered by many to be an injury risk.  2012 was much better as Neal saw action in 11 of the 16 games but he still missed time but this time because of a substance abuse suspension.   If he could just stay healthy, he could be the missing piece in the Packers finally establishing a consistent pass rush.  However, as he adjusts to his new role as an OLB, it was unclear how successful the move might be and what growing pains Neal might encounter.  The initial plan was to have Neal split time between linebacker and subpackage lineman.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Neal notched his first career interception in Week 2 against the Redskins and forced a critical fumble in the Packers’ come from behind 22-21 win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 14.  Neal struggled against the Vikings in the 26-26 tie in Week 12 and not stopping Adrian Peterson was a big reason the Packers couldn’t get the win against the lowly Vikings.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Like with most of the other linebackers, the plan with Neal got blown up thanks to the widespread injuries at the position.  That however turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  Neal  stayed healthy for a full season for the first time in his career and started 10 games. He set a career high with five sacks and did a better job in his first season at linebacker than many thought he would.  The fact that he remained healthy and entire season exceeded many people’s expectations.   Neal had a team-high 46 rushes in 2013 but still has work to do as a pass rusher.  As mentioned above, he also struggled in coverage and against the run.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Neal had only one tackle against the San Francisco 49ers in the wild card loss and the linebackers struggled as a whole to contain Colin Kaepernick.  Neal also showed some liability again in pass coverage.

Season Report Card:

(B+) Level of expectations met during the season

(B) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(C-) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade: B

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke

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10 Responses to “Mike Neal 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card”

  1. GBPDAN says:

    Neal wasn’t the answer as a starter at OLB, which is understandable for his 1st year at this converted position. He probably isn’t the answer as an elite starter that this team needs even with more experience. But, it sure was nice to have him fill in when Perry and Mathews went down.

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  2. Razer says:

    Our personnel and scheme are increasingly misaligned. Neal is no longer sized or positioned as a DE (which he played out of college). I don’t know if he or Nick Perry can really transition to OLB. I like Neal’s effort but I am wondering if he’ll ever be used effectively in the Packers “not really” 3-4.

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  3. Tarynfor12 Tarynfor12 says:

    Expectation for the season…Grade C+

    Be available for 16 games as a fill in for those who will likely miss time in the position(s) that he himself is merely a back-up but still missed a lot of weekly practice which may or may not have hurt him…benefit of a small doubt.

    Contributions to team overall…Grade C+

    The fact that the others were hurt doesn’t mean he played well in their place.Yes,as like Perry,Neal had a couple of plays that many will taut as OMG experiences,he offered as little and hardly more than the 3rd string guys of Mulumba and Palmer.The fact that he rivaled Perry is enough testament to how low level Perry is at OLB overall.

    Contributions in playoffs….that disappearance act should simply validate the above.

    FA thoughts…

    Neal should be grateful if the Packers offer him a deal just to stay as a backup only with hopes of learning one of the two roles asked of him as a hybrid master of none.If another offers decent money with intent of him as a 4-3 DE or chance at 3-4 OLB he should run to it as fast as he can as ‘masterly’looking as possible.

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  4. Since '61 says:

    A B is a very generous grade for Neal. At best he deserves a C+ or maybe even a C. He often runs himself out of plays and when he doesn’t he can’t get off a block. I realize that he was new at OLB but his overall play was poor. If someone makes him an offer as an FA he should take. Maybe the Packers should pay a team to make him an offer. In any case, he is another defensive player that we can be the 25th ranked defense with him and we can be 25th ranked without him. If Neal can have a B grade does this mean that Hawk is an A? This is either a great curve or we have sunk to the point of having no standards or expectations at all. Thanks, Since ’61

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  5. grizzlymitch says:

    We should keep Neal for his versatility. We need to keep Sheilds. Everyone else can be replaced. Take that money and actively pursue TJ Ward to take care of the safety position for the next four or five years. Draft a tight end and inside linebacker. There is your recipe for another superbowl.

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  6. Bedroske says:

    How in the world can a man with lifting records at Purdue, having played DT and DE, struggle to get off of blocks and play the run game effectively? Boggles my mind. This man is untapped potential at the position. He should be a beast. Let’s keep him and get him coached up.

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    • Stroh says:

      Lifting records don’t always translate to on field success. All the bulking up he did only made him injury-prone, hence the soft tissue injuries. His joints couldn’t handle the amount of stress the muscles could exert. He was not a natural 295 – 300 lb DL. Not saying he was on roids, but he was too bulked up. He is more a natural 275 – 280 or less. He played OLB at 275 this past year and if re-signed will probably drop 5-10 more lbs. He missed soo much time his first 2 years that he also never got a chance to really work technique as much as he needed.

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      • Bedroske says:

        I agree brute strength doesn’t always translate, but he does have it. We cannot say it’s lack of strength causing his lack of being a beast. I would, however, think a person used to being in the trenches would be better at shedding a blocker.
        Playing down at 265-270, working on his flexibility, pre-season work on technique…UGH…he should be a beast.

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  7. Lou says:

    The jury is still out whether he has a chance to be an NFL starter or just a “work out warrior” and a sub. I give him credit for the position change but believe the only reason he played in all 16 games was because of his contract year. Missing practice consistently like this year will alienate team mates going forward. I agree with the comment that his lifting totals do not transfer to production on the field. A slightly more than minimum contract with some guaranteed money and I would give him another opportunity.

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