Category Archives: Matthew J Stein

16

July

Forte Gets New Deal, Makes Bears Major Threat in NFC North

Image courtesy of The Chicago Sun-Times

With the franchise-tag deadline in the NFL only hours away, the Chicago Bears have agreed to a long-term contract with running back Matt Forte according to Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.  While there is no doubt that Forte deserved the increase in his pay, this isn’t the best of news for the Green Bay Packers.

The Bears were already looking like a major threat in the NFC North thanks to a solid offseason that brought in Brandon Marshall and Michael Bush.  However, with Forte as a potential holdout candidate due to his displeasure about not getting a new deal, the Bears’ offense didn’t seem as potent without a weapon like Forte who can make plays in a number of ways on the field.

Now that hope of the Bears being less dynamic on offense is shattered with the signing of Forte.  With Jay Cutler, Forte, Bush and Marshall, along with a number of other potentially dynamic players on offense, the Bears have to be considered one of the premier offensive teams in the league.

Of course, they won’t be nearly as dangerous as the Packers on offense, but they could certainly leap over the Detroit Lions as the second best offensive unit in the NFC North.  With the defense still filled with game-changing players, the Bears have now become as balanced and talented as any team in the NFL.

While Green Bay is still the favorite to win the division, the gap between Chicago and the Packers just got quite a bit closer thanks to this new deal.

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12

July

Aaron Rodgers Wins ESPY for ‘Best NFL Player’

Photo Courtesy of JSOnline.com

Media giant ESPN hosted their 20th annual ESPY Awards last night.  Among “awards” such as Best Upset or Best Moment, ESPN also does tradition awards like Best NBA Player or Best MLB Player.

For Best NFL Player, the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers brought home the hardware.  I’ll wait while you recover from the complete shock that just overtook your body.

Seriously though, was there any other award that was so blatantly obvious as Best NFL Player?  Couldn’t ESPN have announced this award at about Week 12 of the 2011 season and simply dropped it from the program?

Anyways, kudos to Rodgers on another trophy to add to his growing case of hardware.  I’m sure this one will sit right next to his MVP and Super Bowl MVP trophies.

10

July

Green Bay Packers Releasing Financial Data: Newest Shareholders Awash In Anticipation

The Packers will release their financial numbers on Tuesday.

Update: The Financial data has been released. The Packers’ operating profit skyrocketed from 12 million thye previuos fiscal year to 43 million over the last 12 months. Full details can be found on Packers.com.

Every year the Green Bay Packers are required to release the financial data of the NFL’s only publicly owned team, and this year is no different.  According to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, the Packers will release last year’s financial numbers Tuesday afternoon.

The report will straddle both 2011 and 2012, and according to Florio, the numbers will most likely show a revenue increase for Green Bay.  This is great news for Green Bay because despite the poor economy and playing in a smaller market, the Packers still show an increase.

However, the bigger issue is Florio, a respected media  member, and the overall attitude of many for how the Packers have reached their financial success.

Florio’s tone throughout the report would have you believe that the Packers are ripping people off by selling them stock that means absolutely nothing.  However, what Florio doesn’t, and honestly can’t, understand is the passion that Packers’ fans have for their beloved team.

Florio states that Green Bay raised $67 million by selling sheets of paper for $250 each.  What Florio calls a piece of paper, we call a piece of the franchise that we love.

Does it matter that the paper ultimately means nothing?  Does it matter that people who bought that stock doesn’t really have a say in the future of the team?

Of course not.

All that matters is the fact that those who purchased that stock are now part of the Packers.  Not literally, but every time they walk into their office or their living room, they see a piece of the Green Bay Packers.

No other fan of any other team in the NFL can say that.

 

 

4

July

Reality Check: What Can the Green Bay Packers Expect From Randall Cobb?

What type of season can we expect from Randall Cobb in 2012?

While Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson may be the core of the Green Bay Packers’ offense, Randall Cobb is without a doubt the most exciting player to enter Green Bay in a long time.  In fact, Cobb’s reputation as an elite playmaker was seen during the first game of his career when he returned a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown midway through the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints.

Even though Cobb only posted 25 receptions for 375 yards and one touchdown, there is still plenty to get excited about heading into the 2012 season for this young player.  The big question is how much of an impact can we truly expect to see from him during his second season.

While it may seem difficult for Cobb to have too huge an impact thanks to the depth of the Packers’ receiving corps, there is simply too much talent oozing from this young player for Green Bay not to figure out how to get him more involved in the offense.

So, just how big of a leap will he make from year one to year two?  Let’s take an in-depth look at what the 2012 season may hold for this talented youngster.

Receptions

Last year Cobb was only thrown at 31 times which resulted in 25 receptions.  There is little doubt that both those numbers should increase, and here is why.

James Jones and Donald Driver had a combined 108 targets last year.  With Driver’s increasing age and diminishing impact on the game combined with Jones’ inconsistent hands, it isn’t crazy to think that Cobb could begin the season as the No. 3 receiver on the depth chart.  When Jordy Nelson was the No. 3 receiver during the 2010 season, he was thrown at 61 times with 45 receptions.

It is definitely possibly that Cobb could see that many targets this year, but I actually believe he’ll see more.  Teams are going to need to focus on slowing down Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley, leaving a potential mismatch on every snap for Cobb.

If there is one thing we know about Rodgers as a quarterback it’s that he loves to throw to the open man.  Cobb will certainly be open a bunch this season, making it extremely likely that he surpasses Nelson’s 2010 campaign.

28

June

How Much Longer Can A.J. Hawk Remain a Packers Starter?

D.J. Smith

Could D.J. Smith take A.J. Hawk's job in 2012?

Since being drafted in the first round of the 2006 NFL draft, A.J. Hawk has consistently been one of the most criticized players for the Green Bay Packers.  In fact, it would be safe to say that the former No. 5 overall pick has been widely considered somewhat of a bust during his tenure in the league.

It seems that every year Packers fans are wondering whether or not this will be the last time that Hawk remains a starting inside linebacker for Green Bay.  However, every year before the start of the regular season they inevitably see Hawk’s name in the starting lineup without a possible replacement challenging him.

That may no longer be the case for Green Bay and Hawk.  According to a report from Gregg Rosenthal at NFL.com, Hawk could lose playing time to second-year player D.J. Smith.  Rosenthal does state that it is unlikely that Smith will completely replace Hawk, but could definitely begin taking away snaps from him.

However, the most interesting quote in Rosenthal’s article is the comment from defensive coordinator Dom Capers that basically states that Smith will be competing for Hawk’s job.  It is one thing for a reporter to say Smith could take Hawk’s job, but it is another thing entirely to have the head-honcho of the defense saying the same thing.

Smith became a fan favorite while filling in when Desmond Bishop injured his knee last year.  One reason why fans in Green Bay loved Smith so much was due to his passion for the game.  He played every snap at 110 percent and was widely effective during his time on the field.

While no one would ever say Hawk doesn’t give his all on the field, you have to wonder what happened to the dominant linebacker who ravaged offenses at Ohio State.  Whereas  Hawk seems to have reached a ceiling that is lower than anyone expected, Smith appears to be capable of becoming much better.  He looks like he could become an exceptional player in this league, and that type of talent simply can’t sit on the bench.

The only question that remains is how long does Hawk have before he stops losing snaps to Smith and simply loses his job completely?

4

June

Should Jermichael Finley’s Chemistry Comments Cause Concern?

Jermichael Finley - Packers vs. Giants playoffs.

How big of an issue is chemistry for Finley?

One of the biggest disappointments during the 2011 season for the Green Bay Packers was the overall play of Jermichael Finley.  Even though he is coming off the best statistical season of his career (55 receptions, 767 yards and eight touchdowns), he was still expected to do much better.

On Wednesday, Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com reported on what Finley said following practice.  One thing that instantly caught my attention is when Finley states,

 “I would say no offseason program. I couldn’t get the chemistry with the QB.”

This is a revealing comment because chemistry is arguably the most important thing between a quarterback and his receiver.  If the two aren’t on the same page, it’s unlikely that positive events will take place.

So, is this comment from Finley regarding his chemistry with Aaron Rodgers something to be concerned about?

Best-Case Scenario

The best case scenario is that Finley and Rodgers find their chemistry with a full offseason together and Finley puts up numbers similar to Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans Saints or Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots.  Finley absolutely has the potential to become a truly special player in this league, but he has yet to fully tap into that potential.

If the reason for that has been chemistry, and that gets fixed, the sky is really the limit for him as a player.  With his ability to create mismatches on all levels of the field, Finley could instantly become the best tight end in the league.

When you consider that Finley had what many teams would consider a successful year lacking chemistry with his quarterback, it’s scary to think what he might do if chemistry between him and Rodgers starts to formulate.  Of course, chemistry has nothing to do with hands, but I’m assuming that Finley will also become more focused on the game in this best-case scenario.

Worst-Case Scenario

This is going to be a little scary.

The worst-case scenario for Finley is that there simply isn’t any chemistry between him and Rodgers and what we’ve seen for the past three years is exactly what we’ll get as far as production goes.  Is that something to be upset about?

30

May

Donald Driver Makes Good on Promise, Will Return to Green Bay in 2012

Packers WR Dons

Donald Driver has reportedly agreed to a new contract with the Packer

It wasn’t too long ago that Donald Driver threw out a questionable comment on Twitter, stating that he’d be a Packer for life.  While that left many wondering what that exactly meant, it appears that the question has been answered.

According to Lance Allen, the Green Bay Packers and Donald Driver have agreed on new terms and the deal should be finalized sometime today.  Allen received an email from Driver’s agent Jordon Woy stating that it is all but a done deal now.

While the terms of the contract have yet to be made known, it would be rather surprising if Driver didn’t take a major pay cut to stay on the Packers roster.  Considering the amount of talent and depth that Green Bay has at the wide receiver position, paying Driver, who isn’t likely to have a major impact in 2012, $5 million a year seems like quite a stretch, even for one of the most beloved players in franchise history.

Personally, I’ve been a long supporter of the Packers and Driver parting ways for the upcoming season for a number of reasons, with the main one being the development of the younger receivers on the roster.  While Driver may still be able to make an impact, it would be foolish to think that he can be as dynamic a player as Randall Cobb or even James Jones.

Both Cobb and Jones provide the big-play ability that Driver is no longer able to provide because of his age.  It’s hard to imagine the Packers re-structuring Driver’s deal only to have him sit on the bench.  If Driver is on the roster, the Packers will put him on the field which means that the younger receivers on the roster will lose valuable playing time.

Don’t get me wrong: I love Donald Driver.  His story is one of the best; a late-round draft pick working his tail off to make a roster and becoming a top player at his position.

Unfortunately, the only thing that Driver can continue to bring to the team is his story.  His play on the field has declined over the past two years, and despite his rigorous offseason training program of Dancing With the Stars, his play will likely decline in 2012.