Category Archives: Authors

29

July

DuJuan Harris could bring some nasty to Packers kickoff return unit

DuJuan Harris bike

This picture of Packers RB DuJuan Harris carrying a little girls’ pink bike to practice on Monday is making the rounds online. I thought it would be funny to pair this sweet picture with my post about how violent and nasty of a runner Harris could be on kickoffs.

After three days of Packers training camp practices, it appears DuJuan Harris will be given an opportunity to win the kick returner job.

It’s way too early for anybody to get a sense of who has the advantage in contested position battles, but the thought of Harris returning kicks intrigues me in an old-school football sort of way.

Harris packs 200-plus pounds onto his 5-foot-8 frame and runs like a burning man sprinting for a nearby lake. A “rolling ball of butcher knives” was the phrase an NFL scout used to describe Harris in a Bob McGinn game review story a few years back.

I want to see Harris take a kick five yards deep in the end zone, build up a head of steam, and plow straight into the first guy who tries to tackle him. If Harris hits a pile of tacklers forming a wall to bring him down, my money is on the wall moving backward before Harris hits the turf.

The NFL has tried to make kick returns safer in recent years. To me, trying to tackle Harris after he’s been charging ahead for 15 yards seems anything but safe.

Harris is the type of player who will bring some violence to the Packers kick return unit and make people who remember what kickoffs were like 10, 15 or 20 years ago smile and nod their heads.

Of course, Harris is coming back after missing last season with a knee injury and various other ailments. Perhaps the promise he showed at the end of 2012 will be long gone.

The former used car salesman deserves a chance, though. With Eddie Lacy and James Starks slotted as the top two running backs, kick returns might be Harris’s best shot at carving out a significant role on this team.

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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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29

July

Cory’s Corner: Mike McCarthy’s style is perfect for Packers

In eight seasons as the Packers head coach, Mike McCarthy has an 82-45-1 record and a 6-5 playoff record. He has five double-digit win seasons.

In eight seasons as the Packers head coach, Mike McCarthy has an 82-45-1 record and a 6-5 playoff record. He has five double-digit win seasons.

Mike McCarthy has been called a lot of things by a lot of people.

Some may not like his play-calling, while others may not prefer his player development.

But the Packers coach isn’t afraid to think out-of-the-box. How many NFL coaches are approaching NFL training camp with Jell-O? That’s right, the Bill Cosby snack has been infused into Packers practice.

It is evident that McCarthy is sick and tired of seeing nagging injuries pester his players. And if it takes a Jell-O cup and a granola bar to do it, so be it.

McCarthy is entering his ninth season as coach of the Packers. The reason he has been able to be successful is because he is willing to change. In 2006 he changed his practice routine and gave the players more of a break. Usually accustomed to practicing in the morning and afternoon, he slashed practices by only having one workout following days with two workouts.

Last year, McCarthy proved what kind of a coach he really is. The knock on McCarthy has been similar to Phil Jackson when he coached Michael Jordan — any coach can win with arguably the best player in the league in Aaron Rodgers. But the Packers started four different quarterbacks last year and McCarthy made them look pretty good.

Scott Tolzien started zero games coming into last season and McCarthy made him look decent, including lighting up the Giants for 339 yards. Matt Flynn, a career backup journeyman, turned out to be the savior by somehow getting wins against Atlanta and Dallas to keep the slim playoff hopes alive.

And the person that needs to get the credit for that is McCarthy. His preparation and more importantly his positive attitude continually flowed through this team, even though Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Clay Matthews and others were hurting.

And as he proved a couple years ago that he isn’t afraid of taking a risk with an onside kick, fake field goal and fake punt all in the same season.

His biggest job right now is to develop wide receiving depth. It is unclear if Randall Cobb will be back with the Packers following Jordy Nelson’s extension. Also, it is unclear if Jarrett Boykin is in the team’s best interest as the Packers’ No. 3 receiver.

28

July

Packers Training Camp: “The Collisions Have Started”

Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams

Rodgers and Adams emerge and prepare for the 2014 season. Adams is one of several young receivers vying for a roster spot (Photo credit: Morry Gash/AP)

Monday brought day three of training camp for the Green Bay Packers and they seemed to pack a lot into a two-and-a-half hour period.  One of the first tweets by the media came from Wed Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette that simply stated “the collisions have started”.

Among those who have already made news in the three days of camp practices are Mike Daniels, Datone Jones, Julius Peppers, Casey Hayward and Colt Lyerla.  Some have made good impressions while others, not so much.

Head coach Mike McCarthy has made some adjustments to this year’s schedule and some changes for the first time in his nine seasons in Green Bay.  These include the timing of practice, specifically as they prepare for their preseason games.

McCarthy will not hold practice two days prior to the game and will instead hold the usual team walkthrough the day prior.  In previous years, the team held their walkthrough two days before the game with no practice the day prior.  He plans to implement this schedule during the regular season as well in the hopes that it reduces the lull before the game and his players will remain more focused.

Monday’s practice lasted about an hour longer than most OTA and mini camp practices so the team is spending a bit more time on the field and preparing for the upcoming season.

There have not been any new nor significant injuries to report.  This may not seem like a big deal this early into the preseason, but over the past few years, the Packers have seen some early injuries that impacted their roster.  At this same point last year, they had already lost offensive lineman J.C. Tretter to an ankle injury that forced him to miss most of the 2013 regular season.

The Packers are using some advanced technology to monitor their players and try to avoid too much stress on their bodies in the hopes that it will also reduce injuries.

Jay Sorgi of 620WTMJ and the Green Bay Packers Radio Network and Dan Koob of the NBC affiliate, WGBA in Green Bay, offered nice recaps of Monday’s work and below is a recap with some commentary.

Camp recap

28

July

So far, Packers TE Colt Lyerla doesn’t look like the next Jimmy Graham

Colt Lyerla

Packers rookie free agent TE Colt Lyerla has struggled the first two days of camp.

When the Packers signed rookie free agent Colt Lyerla, there were a lot of people claiming the troubled tight end from Oregon was a first-round talent who went undrafted because of character concerns and legal issues.

Some people even used Lyerla in the same sentence as Jimmy Graham when talking about his talent and potential production.

Through two days of Packers training camp, reports indicate that Lyerla looks nothing like a first-round talent and shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same book as Graham, let alone sentence.

I thought the hype over Lyerla was way overblown. If he truly was a first-round talent that reminded scouts and GMs of Jimmy Graham, someone would have drafted him, regardless of his attitude and legal issues.

However, we’re only two days into camp. It’s way too early to write players off (or anoint them superstars). Hopefully Lyerla gets his feet under him and starts showing the tremendous talent many people assumed he had.

But for now, let’s give the Jimmy Graham comparisons and first-round talent proclamations a rest.

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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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28

July

Packers Xs and Os: What We Might See From McCarthy’s Up-Tempo Offense (Part 2)

Will Aaron Rodgers be leading an up-tempo or no huddle offense in 2014? (Photo credit: Jeff Hanisch/USA Today).

Will Aaron Rodgers be leading an up-tempo or no huddle offense in 2014? (Photo credit: Jeff Hanisch/USA Today).

Last week, we started to discuss some offensive concepts we might see rolled out this year if Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is true to his word about going up-tempo with three-down personnel.

This week, we’ll look at some basic passing route combinations I expect to see the Packers to use in an up-tempo, and possibly no huddle, game plan.

Of course, there is a huge combination of formations and routes an NFL offense can roll out to attack complex defenses. So, for this article, I’m making some very basic assumptions and this carries my standard disclaimer that this is an oversimplification for illustrative purposes only. Also, we’ll only look at some of the most common route combinations found in the west coast offense playbook.

Assumptions

  • The offense is in the 11 personnel (1 running back, 1 tight end, 3 wide receivers).
  • The offense is in a 2×2 alignment.
  • Even if a play is called in the huddle, sight adjustments at the line of scrimmage during the pre-snap read trump the huddle. The quarterback and receivers will adjust their routes to attack the coverage the defense is showing. This may be from a quarterback audible or automatic sight adjustments.
  • The defenses discussed here will only include man-to-man, man-to-man/blitz, cover 2, and cover 3.
  • Most of the route combinations will spread and attack the defense using the high/low principle to stress the cornerbacks.

Attack Keys

The quarterback and receivers must see the same thing in terms of how the defense is covering the field. Of utmost importance is reading the backpedal of the safeties. For simplicity sake, I’m assuming here that the quarterback and receivers have properly read that. Therefore, the keys of the routes will be reading and stressing the cornerbacks.

The route combinations described below are designed to attack the cornerbacks and make them make a decision and force them into a bad angle or coverage.

All-Purpose Route Combinations

It’s important that the offense has route packages that can attack any coverage the defense rolls out. Not only is the defense really good at disguising their coverage pre-snap, but sometimes the offense also wants to run a play before the defense can even align and get into a coverage. So, it’s good strategy to have route concepts that can attack either man-to-man coverage or zone coverage equally as effective.

27

July

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers football

Packers training camp opened Friday and we now have plenty of Packers storylines to analyze and break down. That means today’s “Surviving Sunday” will be the last until the Packers 2014 season comes to an end, hopefully after Feb. 1 and a victory in Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona.

Now that training camp has started, what Packers storyline would you like to see go the way of “Surviving Sunday ” and disappear for the rest of the season?

I’m sick of talking about the defense. I mean really sick of it.

I’m sick of hearing about how bad Packers’ safeties were last season. I’m sick of being worried about having to watch A.J. Hawk for another season. I’m sick of speculation about B.J. Raji ever being a useful player again. I’m sick of wondering if Nick Perry will ever stay healthy. I’m sick of Clay Matthews’ thumb (and his damn hamstring) and I’m sick of trying to figure out if Dom Capers is a good defensive coordinator or not.

The sooner the Packers defense improves, the happier my life will be. I’m not asking for the Packers D to morph into the second coming of the Purple People Eaters or the Steel Curtain, but show enough promise that fans can have reasonable hope that the defense could catch fire late in the season and ignite a Super Bowl run.

That seems to be the formula for success in today’s NFL: Have a good to great quarterback who goes on a run late in the season and back that up with a good defense that heats up as the weather turns cold.

If I have to put up with #FireCapers hashtags and another season of bumbling play from the middle of the defense, it’s going to be a trying season.

Packers News, Notes and Links

  • Now that I’m done ranting, we can get to some happier news, like the Packers signing Jordy Nelson to a 4-year, $39 million contract extension. I see Nelson as a Cris Carter type of receiver. He has very good physical ability, but stretches those physical tools even further by catching anything he can reach and always thinking a step or two ahead of the defense.
26

July

Packers Sign Jordy Nelson to Four Year Extension

Jordy Nelson gets four-year contract extension from Packers

Jordy Nelson gets four-year contract extension

The Green Bay Packers today took care of wrapping up the first of their potential 2015 free agents, signing first-priority receiver Jordy Nelson to a contract extension.

According to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, Nelson received a four year extension for 39  million dollars, just short of the 10 million per season he was looking for. The deal includes 14.2 million of guaranteed money and an 11.5 million signing bonus. Nelson, woefully underpaid in the eyes of most Packers observers, gets a deal roughly equal to that of Pierre Garcon (based on per year average), and slightly below Victor Cruz.

In a statement released by the Packers, Ted Thompson said, “Jordy’s hard work and dedication has made him a good player, teammate and a core member of this team. We are pleased to come to an agreement that will extend his Packers career.”

Coach McCarthy, finding out after today’s practice, said, “Jordy Nelson is an outstanding football player and great ambassador for the Packers. It’s something everybody is excited about. I’m glad to see Jordy will be here for some time. Just made aware of it. I think Jordy is so consistent. He shows up each and every day, performs at a high level consistently. He’s the ultimate pro.”

Last season, Nelson had 85 receptions for 1,314 yards and eight touchdowns, mostly without Aaron Rodgers throwing the passes. That put an end to the “Rodgers makes his receivers look better than they are” narrative some of those who doubted Nelson’s worth were putting forth. 

At 29 years old, Nelson is the same age as Greg Jennings and James Jones were when the Packers chose not to re-sign them.Keeping money in reserve for “core” player signings is something Ted Thompson is very aware of and factors into every decision to let someone go. For those still complaining about Evan Dietrich-Smith not being re-signed, this is where that money went. happy now?

And from the perfect timing department. just this morning, our own Cory Jennerjohn predicted Packers GM Ted Thompson would show Nelson the money.

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He is a PFWA member who can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.