Category Archives: Cory’s Corner

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.

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26

July

Cory’s Corner: Ted Thompson will show Jordy Nelson the money

Jordy Nelson picked a pretty good time to break out. He caught nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown in a Super Bowl XLV win.

Jordy Nelson picked a pretty good time to break out. He caught nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown in a Super Bowl XLV win.

Jordy Nelson wants $10 million per season.

The question isn’t if Nelson is worth that much dough. The question is if Nelson is worth more than Greg Jennings or James Lofton.

We all know how squeamish general manager Ted Thompson gets about signing guys that are within a whisper of age 30. Jennings was 29 and coming off a sports hernia injury in 2012 that only allowed him to start five games.

Even though Jennings was the Packers’ No. 1 option from 2008-2011, Thompson made the right call in letting him go.

James Lofton is a little bit more interesting. He led the Packers in receiving from 1978-1986 and went to seven Pro Bowls while in Green Bay. When he left the Packers, Lofton was the team’s all-time leading receiver, a record that’s now owned by Donald Driver.

But the Packers surprisingly moved on. Lofton’s last season in Green Bay was at age 30 and it turned out to be a good decision, as Lofton never caught more than 60 balls again and only notched one more 1,000-yard season.

Which brings us to Nelson, who might be one of the most undervalued receivers in the league. Last year he proved his worth by producing when all-everything quarterback Aaron Rodgers was out for seven games and he had to adjust to four different starting quarterbacks. Nelson’s running mate, Randall Cobb, was injured as well. So with all that, Nelson still caught a career-high 85 balls for a career-high 1,314 yards and eight touchdowns.

Nelson just turned 29 in May and despite not getting any Pro Bowl love, he’s worth every penny of the $10 million that he is asking. Barring an unforeseen injury, I don’t see Nelson’s production falling off. That’s because he wasn’t consistently starting at wideout until his third year in the league.

Conversely, Jennings and Lofton started the majority of games right away.

Thompson may be pacing back-and-forth with this decision, but the right call is to give Nelson the money. Cobb is a dynamic athlete, but with his stop-on-a-dime mentality, he is more susceptible to a knee or ankle injury.

22

July

Cory’s Corner: Packers’ 2014 D Begins and Ends with Raji

With the signing of Julius Peppers, B.J. Raji could have a snice year.

With the signing of Julius Peppers, B.J. Raji could have a nice year.

I gave B.J. Raji a lot of grief last year.

After setting career lows in total tackles (12) and tallying no sacks for the second straight season, it was completely warranted.

Raji’s argument was that he barely played his true position as a bona fide nose tackle. He dabbled in playing end and also spent time as a three-technique lineman that is more prevalent in a 4-3 scheme.

True position or not, his production nose-dived to the point that many — including myself — were surprised that the Packers didn’t let him walk in free agency.

But then Julius Peppers signed.

Which of course means that Raji will be going back to his usual perch at the middle of the defensive line as the team’s nose tackle. The fifth-year pro should be ecstatic about getting help on the outside to assist him bull-rushing up the gut.

And there’s another twist that makes it even better for the Packers: Raji signed a team-friendly deal this past offseason. Of course, there’s no way Green Bay can lose when Raji turns down $8 million a season. Now the 28-year-old is operating under a 1-year $4,000,000 deal.

Will Peppers have a big year? He may surprise a lot of people, but even if he plays like an average 34-year-old, the Packers will be OK.

And the reason is because Green Bay will be playing to the strengths of the guy that was one of the best run-stoppers in the game in 2010.

Is it a gamble? Sure. First of all, Clay Matthews cannot get hurt again. A consistent pass rush must be executed from each side in order to give Raji space up the middle.

In more ways than one this is Raji’s year. He needs a big year for a big payday, but he also wants a solid year to end the criticism he took all of last year for giving up on plays early. Obviously, there is no excuse for loafing and there’s no reason to do that no matter what position you play.

Raji cannot be satisfied with how he played last year. I mean he was tied for 540th in the league in combined tackles. He will need to be more of a ball hawk this year because the Packers take on eight teams with a dominant running back.

19

July

Cory’s Corner: The NFL is killing its familial identity

DirecTV will stream its popular Sunday Ticket package to people that don't need a satellite subscription. This will turn the wheels for the NFL to start charging for more and more of its televised product.

DirecTV will stream its popular Sunday Ticket package to people that don’t need a satellite subscription. This will turn the wheels for the NFL to start charging for more and more of its televised product.

I noticed a lot of people were happy about the news that DirecTV would offer streaming options for Sunday Ticket without a satellite subscription.

But this is just the beginning of the end folks.

Televising football games has come long way since Pat Summerall and John Madden started calling games on CBS in 1981. With the dawn of the NFL Network in 2003, and Thursday Night Football three years later, fans would be forced to pay for a higher cable tier just to see a mediocre night of football.

The NFL is taking in nearly $10 billion in yearly revenue right now, which is an astronomical number if you’re name isn’t Warren Buffet. But the NFL suits want to make more. The NFL has a goal of making $25 billion in revenue by 2027.

Of course, they’re not going to make all that by selling its most prized possession for television viewers as a stand-alone product. People living in urban areas paying approximately $20 per week to stream games at home instead of going to sports bars may be a small step, but it’s a step toward something bigger.

It won’t take long before the NFL puts the clamps on a full Sunday Ticket streaming package and forces fans to only pay for an a la carte package. Meaning, you would only pay for the games you want to see. That is music to a lot of fan’s ears because why in the world would a Packers fan care about the Cardinals?

A few years after the NFL institutes the a la carte package, the NFL will want to go all-in with a pay-per-view package. Obviously, the broadcast networks will balk at this. The networks hemorrhage money each year on non-football programming, but the NFL is a cash cow for them and changing the current model would be terrifying.

But no matter how much resistance the broadcast networks put up, the NFL will want pay-per-view. The current TV deals with CBS, Fox and NBC are worth $27 billion and the agreement expires after the 2022 season. I doubt that pay-per-view will be in play when the next contract is signed, but it will be discussed.

12

July

Cory’s Corner: Will teams Johnny Manziel-proof themselves?

Johnny Manziel made this social media post on a  recent trip to Las Vegas. If it affects his play remains to be seen.

Johnny Manziel made this social media post on a recent trip to Las Vegas. If it affects his play remains to be seen.

With the explosion of social media in the last few years, many think that sports teams will need to Johnny Manziel-proof themselves.

Or will they?

By now, everyone has caught a glimpse of Manziel’s mini-vacation photos he took in Las Vegas a few months ago. In it was the usual charade of Vegas: scantily clad women in a party atmosphere with Johnny and his friends.

Now I don’t think this is a big deal. Manziel hasn’t thrown a pass in the NFL yet, and he decided to go to Vegas moments after he was issued the Browns playbook.

Yet I was surprised to see and hear about how many people were upset that he wasn’t at home cramming his brain with hot routes, silent counts and hand signals.

First of all, let the players fail before jumping all over them for a decision based on free time.

Taken a step further, what if said player was a veteran? Would Packers fans have a problem if Aaron Rodgers started filling up social media with himself partying in the offseason?

Football players live in a 24/7 media bubble that makes them feel like they are being suffocated. That’s why offensive linemen usually give the most candid quotes, because that group of hard workers hardly ever gets a microphone thrown in his personal space.

Obviously, athletes have to be a little bit more cautious with what they let the world to see. This isn’t high school where you can post a picture of something and only your close friends are going to see it.

But then again, I don’t think it’s fair for athletes to live as hermits. The reason Rodgers is so adored in Green Bay is because he is approachable. He is spotted in the grocery store, restaurants and doing other regular people things. But Packers fans, being in the smallest NFL town, are smart enough not to ruin every public appearance that he makes by splashing it up on social media every time.

What it all comes down to is filtering. Herm Edwards, the ESPN NFL analyst who is outspoken to a fault, had a brief talk at the NFL Rookie Symposium a few years ago. The main thing he said was, “Think twice before you hit send.”

8

July

Cory’s Corner: Mason Crosby deserves praise not punishment

Mason Crosby trails Ryan Longwell as the Packers career scoring leader by a score of 1,054-903. He was perfect from 39 yards and in last year.

Mason Crosby trails Ryan Longwell as the Packers career scoring leader by a count of 1,054-903. He was perfect from 39 yards and in last year.

Mason Crosby has been the whipping boy by Packers fans the last few years.

People have been eager to paint him as the goat for missing the 52-yarder at the Metrodome in 2008 or the 52-and 51-yard field goals at Indianapolis in 2012.

But despite getting the Monday Morning Quarterback treatment every time he misses a field goal, Crosby had the best season of his seven-year career last year. He made over 89 percent of his field goals, including 5 for 7 from 50 yards or more, and he was perfect from extra points for the second straight year.

And now, Crosby is on the cusp of greatness. He is only 151 points from tying Ryan Longwell as the Packers career scoring leader. Crosby, who turns 30 on Sept. 3, is under contract until 2015, so there’s plenty of time for the record to fall.

However, I doubt that even a Packers career scoring record will sway the minds of the Packers faithful that wanted him gone two years ago.

Kicking is one of the most fickle jobs in sports. They don’t help the offense move the ball down the field. They don’t wrap anybody up on defense. They are only called on when an offensive drive fails or to be the end-of-game savior.

And when their foot fails them, things get ugly for them. Yet, running backs and wide receivers fail at some point in the game but they usually don’t receive the same amount of criticism when a kicker pushes an attempt as time expires.

Crosby’s 141 points he scored last year and in his rookie year of 2007 are the highest Packers scoring totals in a season by a player that was only a kicker. And believe it or not, Crosby owns the most field goals at a distance of 50 yards or more with 19. That’s two more than Chris Jacke and six more than Ryan Longwell.

When Crosby signed the five-year $14.75 million contract back in July of 2011, I was one of those that was a little surprised. But then that season he connected on 85.7 percent of his kicks (24 for 28) including a 58-yard boot at Minnesota.

5

July

Cory’s Corner: Aaron Rodgers will prove ranking was wrong

Aaron Rodgers was ranked No. 11 by the NFL Network. He currently ranks No. 1 in career passer rating and career interception percentage.

Aaron Rodgers was ranked No. 11 by the NFL Network. He currently ranks No. 1 in career passer rating and career interception percentage.

I was surprised to see how many Packers fans were upset about Aaron Rodgers’ spot in the recent NFL Network Top 100 rankings.

First of all, Rodgers is a better overall player than No. 11. Heck if I was Matthew Stafford, I would be really ticked about being ranked last.

But based on last year, when Rodgers missed seven games due to a broken clavicle, wasn’t that outrageous. But it was still wrong.

Rodgers is in the same tier as Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees. Period. Those four make up the best collection of talent at the most important position in sports.

And there’s nothing to say that Rodgers’ skills are diminishing. The crux of his game are his analytical skills. He will outthink you to death and just when an opponent believes they have outsmarted him, Rodgers will bring out his physical tools, which includes his escapability.

According to the NFL Network, Rodgers may not be the best player in the league, but he is the most important. Last year proved that the Packers not only need him, but he’s vital to the team’s success.

Rodgers has proven that he is still successful no matter who he’s throwing to. Greg Jennings left and this coming season James Jones will play for a new team. Yet, Rodgers will develop another receiver.

So don’t worry about the rankings. Did Rodgers have a down year? By his standards, yes. But, that was because of injury and he is the last guy that I would want to tick off.

He remembers all of his slights. He knows the people that wrote him off. He catalogs all of these life-humbling events and uses them as fuel.

He came into a tough situation following a legend. And now he’s 58-29 as a starter and he’s won at least 10 games four times in six seasons as a starter. Brady threw 50 touchdown passes at age 30 and Rodgers turns 31 in December. He’s got plenty of great football ahead of him.

After Rodgers glanced at his NFL Network ranking, I would say that he has enough fuel for the season.