Category Archives: Casey Hayward

6

May

Cory’s Corner: Ted Thompson averages a draft whiff a year

Packers general manager Ted Thompson selected future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers with his first pick as the Green Bay GM.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson selected future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers with his first pick as the Green Bay GM.

This will be Ted Thompson’s 10th NFL Draft as the Packers general manager. He has been arguably the biggest lightning rod for criticism over the years.

There is inherent value in every round of the draft, but the most consistent value lies in rounds 1-3, which is where I also focus my attention.

Thompson did a masterful job early on. When you land a guy like Aaron Rodgers as your first pick to begin your new job, things are looking pretty good. He added safety Nick Collins and wide receiver Terrence Murphy, who were both forced to leave pro football early after suffering neck injuries.

The next year, Thompson did another excellent job by adding fifth overall pick in linebacker A.J. Hawk, second rounders in guard Daryn Colledge and wide receiver Greg Jennings and third round guard Jason Spitz. The only guy that was a question mark was third round linebacker Abdul Hodge because injuries forced him to only start one game in four NFL seasons.

But after hitting so many home runs in his first two seasons, Thompson was due for some whiffs. And that’s exactly what happened in 2007. Justin Harrell, arguably the worst pick of Thompson’s career, started just two of 14 games in his three-year career. It was a little head scratching that the Packers even used a first round pick on Harrell, who entered the league hurt after tearing his biceps at Tennessee.

Brandon Jackson is another strikeout. The former Nebraska track star/football player was able to play bit roles but is now looking for a job. James Jones gave the Packers a good return on its third-round investment. He proved he could start but was never capable of winning the top receiver job. The final whiff of 2007 is Aaron Rouse. The safety played just three seasons before signing with the now-defunct United Football League.

The following year, there were two more whiffs sandwiched in between a couple of home runs. Obviously, second rounder Jordy Nelson has carved out a pretty nice career as one of Rodgers’ go-to targets. However, second rounder Brian Brohm, after not being able to get comfortable with the speed of the NFL game, is now playing quarterback for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL. The other miss was second round cornerback Patrick Lee, who only started one game in his Green Bay career. The other great get that Thompson secured was third rounder Jermichael Finley. Although his mouth got in the way early on, Finley was one of the most athletic tight ends in the game when healthy.

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26

January

Casey Hayward 2013 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Packers CB Casey Hayward

Packers CB Casey Hayward

1) Introduction: After a great rookie season in which he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 4 cornerback, Hayward appeared poised to take on an even larger role in 2013 with Charles Woodson playing elsewhere. But a bum hamstring hampered Hayward (shoutout to alliterations) throughout training camp and into the season. As a result, Hayward was only on the field for 88 snaps in his second season. The Packers dipped to 26th in the league in interceptions without Hayward–who led the team with six interceptions as a rookie in 2012. It’ll be interesting to see a healthy Hayward on the field next summer at training camp.

2) Profile: Casey Hayward

  • Age: 24
  • Born: 9/9/1989 in Perry, GA
  • Height: 5’11″
  • Weight: 192
  • College: Vanderbilt
  • Rookie Year: 2012
  • NFL Experience: 2 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: As a rookie, Hayward was clearly the Packers’ top slot cover man. So with Woodson playing in Oakland, the need for a “turnover creator” was pressing, and Hayward was the most logical choice on the roster. The Packers had big expectations for Hayward coming into the season.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Hayward played a season-high 42 snaps Nov. 4 against the Chicago Bears and made five tackles. That’s about it for his highlights. As far as low-lights, it’s pretty easy. Hayward was hobbled by his hammy literally from summer through the winter, and the result was a lost season.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Hayward was rusty–certainly not in top form–as he battled through his hamstring injury, and 88 snaps can only elicit so much in terms of a contribution.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Hayward ended up on the I.R. and didn’t appear in the playoffs. If you’re keeping score at home and/or looking for reason to be optimistic about the Packers’ chances against the 49ers, Hayward didn’t play a snap in either game against San Francisco this season and both games were decided by one possession. In fact, Hayward has played a total of 35 snaps in four games against the 49ers.

Season Report Card:

(N/A) Level of expectations met during the season

(N/A) Contributions to team’s overall success

(N/A) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade: LS (Lost Season)

19

January

Packers, Capers really missed Casey Hayward in 2013

Casey Hayward wasn't the Packers' only missing link in 2013, but he was certainly missed. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

Casey Hayward wasn’t the Packers’ only missing link in 2013, but he was certainly missed. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

As a rookie in 2012, Packers cornerback Casey Hayward was one of three finalists for the league’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ fourth-best cornerback–the second-round pick trailed only established veterans Antoine Winfield, Richard Sherman and Charles Tillman.

After Hayward intercepted a team-best six passes and holding opposing passers to an abysmal 31.1 passer rating, the Packers had high hopes for Hayward, as they cut ties with their veteran leader and turnover-creator Charles Woodson following the 2012 season.

But Hayward’s encore was disrupted by a recurring hamstring issue, limiting him to appearing in just three games. He played 88 snaps.

With Woodson playing in Oakland and Hayward on the sideline, the Packers were left searching for a solution in the slot early last season. Sam Shields and Tramon Williams had fine seasons, but both are better suited for the perimeter. Micah Hyde didn’t play like a rookie, as he took over as the primary punt returner while proving to be a reliable run defender and a versatile cover man.

All things considered, the Packers’ cornerbacks fared well, but they were seriously lacking in one area.

For as long as Dom Capers has served as defensive coordinator in Green Bay, the Packers defense has relied heavily on takeaways. Woodson intercepted 19 passes and forced 11 fumbles during Capers’ tenure, which began in 2009. When Capers served as defensive coordinator with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1992-1994, he had another Woodson (Rod), who intercepted 16 passes in three seasons with Capers.

But for the first time since taking over in Green Bay, Capers was without his X-Factor in 2013. He didn’t have a play-maker. He certainly didn’t have a Woodson.

For a defense that had grown accustomed to bending but not breaking, losing its turnover-creating wild card would be like throwing Capers in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean without a raft. Hayward’s 88 snaps were a makeshift life vest, but Capers and the defense remained stranded and searching for answers.

It would be foolish to assume Hayward’s career will unfold like Woodson’s, but you don’t let go of your high-school sweetheart without a winner on deck. The Packers had a plan for Life After Woodson, but that plan (Hayward) fell by the wayside thanks to the injury bug.

23

November

Packers Cannot Exterminate Injury Bug, Must Carry On

Ryan Grant Injury

The Packers have seen way too much of this scene in 2013 and have to find a way to win the next few games

As of Thursday of this week, there were 13 players listed on the Green Bay Packers injury report.  Of those, only two participated in full.  Now that the 2013 season is in it’s 12th week, it is probably safe to say that injuries are going to continue to be the story of this year’s Packers team.

This is not a news flash to anyone familiar with the Packers or, really, anyone who follows NFL football.  For the past four seasons, the Packers have become notorious for being among the league leaders in lost time due to player injuries.  We know that the Green Bay medical staff operates on the conservative side and I’m being liberal in using that term.  Yes, that was corny, but it’s hard to argue its truth.

Often when there is a question about a player’s readiness to return to the field or be activated, the team will hold the player back to allow more time to heal.  In theory, this seems wise, but the Packers don’t appear to be reaping the rewards of being so cautious.

Each week it seems that more and more new bodies are added to the injury report.  Still, the Packers have to continue playing their games.  Having depth is one thing and we all know how previous Packers teams have overcome injuries to do great things, but if there is a “one too many” point, it is now.

That may actually be the good news.  The team knows they are, for all intents and purposes, more short handed than they can afford to be at this point in the season.  But at least they are aware of it.  The bad news is that it will probably continue and could get worse.  Call it the law of averages, a negative outlook or a mere prediction on my part.

With a divisional matchup against the Minnesota Vikings coming up this weekend and sitting at 5-5, the Packers are in desperate need of a win.  A loss would not necessarily end Green Bay’s season, as many have proclaimed (many of whom declared this as soon as Aaron Rodgers’ shoulder hit the Lambeau Field turf), but it would likely take help from other teams to salvage it.

13

November

Packers Stock Report: Another Defensive Meltdown Edition

Packers safety MD Jennings isn’t doing much to help Dom Capers’ defense snap out of its two-week funk.

I’m fine with Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson not firing Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers after yet another defensive meltdown against the Eagles.

Would canning Capers and replacing him with a defensive position coach really make the defense tackle better or the safeties cover more ground and pick off a pass here or there? I don’t know. Maybe.

What I don’t get is the people who argue that firing Capers would be a “knee-jerk” reaction. The Packers defense has been average at best for the better part of three seasons now. In the last two weeks, when Capers and the defense had an opportunity to truly step up and cover for a banged-up offense, they failed. Miserably.

We’ve seen a steady pattern of issues from the Packers defense over the last three seasons:

  • Poor tackling
  • Confusion in the secondary
  • Minimal pass rush from the defensive line
  • Relying heavily on turnovers
  • Playoff meltdowns

That’s plenty of reason for dismissal.

I suppose you could say firing any coach midseason is a knee-jerk reaction in an of itself. But I don’t necessarily agree with that.

When it comes to Capers, the failures are consistent and prevalent enough that his dismissal would not be considered “knee jerk.” Again, I’m not saying it would be the right decision, but it would not be knee jerk.

Anyway, hopefully Capers figures it out and we can add him to the rising category once again.

On to the stock report:

Rising

T.J. Lang
All season, Lang has been clearing a patch for Eddie Lacy on the inside. When injuries struck the offensive line Sunday and claimed C Evan Dietrich-Smith, Lang stepped up and played center for the first time in his career. He never screwed up a snap and did an adequate job blocking. Bravo, Mr. Lang.

Jarrett Boykin
Lost amidst all the injury chaos is the emergence of Boykin. After looking totally lost against Baltimore trying to fill in for the injured Randall Cobb and James Jones, Boykin has come to life and turned into a confident and reliable receiver for the Packers rotating stable of quarterbacks.

11

November

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Eagles 27, Packers 13

With Aaron Rodgers injured, the Packers are relying on Scott Tolzien at quarterback.

With Aaron Rodgers injured, the Packers are relying on Scott Tolzien at quarterback.

Scott Tolzien played the majority of the game for the Green Bay Packers at quarterback.

Scott. Tolzien.

To his credit, he was a solid quarterback for the Wisconsin Badgers, but he was, in essence, a puppet carrying out Paul Chryst’s game plan, which relied heavily on a dominant power run game. But in his two years as the Badgers’ starter, never did I think Tolzien would be playing in the NFL, much less for a playoff contender like the Packers.

But against the Philadelphia Eagles, Tolzien filled in for an injured Seneca Wallace and played pretty well. Despite being intercepted in the red zone, which took points off the board, Tolzien moved the ball much better than Wallace did last week against the Chicago Bears after Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone.

For a fan base that’s used to watching Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre under center, the past couple games have been a wakeup call. Last week, Rodgers played one series before getting injured, and this week, the Packers again lost their starting quarterback (Wallace) after the first series.

Since 1992, the Packers have had three quarterbacks start a football game: Favre, Rodgers and Matt Flynn. Next week, with Tolzien slated to get the start, will mark the Packers’ third starting quarterback in three weeks. Crazy.

By no means was the Packers’ loss on Sunday due to Tolzien’s struggles. The blame falls on the defense.

Game Balls

Datone Jones

As bad as the defense was, Jones had (by far) the best game of his young NFL career against the Eagles. Jones was responsible for two sacks on Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, which isn’t bad for a guy who was only on the field for 19 plays. After a debacle like Sunday’s, it’s easy to look past the few positives, but the rookie had a big day.

Jarrett Boykin

With a pair of backup quarterbacks throwing him the football, Boykin tied a career high with eight catches and set a new career best with 112 receiving yards. Quietly, Boykin is having a really nice season as his opportunities have increased. Despite subpar speed, Boykin always seems to be where he’s supposed to be, and he catches the ball when it’s thrown to him. That’s a really good thing for a wide receiver.

5

November

Packers Stock Report: Oh $#!%, Aaron Rodgers is Hurt Edition

It hurts just looking at this photo. Avert your eyes. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is injured.

OhmygodOhmygodOhmygodOhmygod. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is hurt.

Now what?

Can Seneca Wallace keep the Packers alive until (if?) Rodgers returns?

Should the Packers call Favre?

Should the Packers call Flynn?

Where’s Graham Harrell when you need him?

What the hell happened to the defense on Monday?

Did the Rodgers injury somehow cause the Packers to forget how to tackle and pass protect?

What is a Shea McClellin and why did it do that to our quarterback?

The Bears still suck. Ok, that made me feel a little bit better.

Oh damn, I just remembered that Rodgers is hurt. OhmygodOhmygodOhmygodOhmygod.

Now I’m starting to panic. How can I snap out of this?

Maybe writing the Packers stock report will help. Let’s see.

On to the stock report:

Rising

Eddie Lacy
I totally forgot how awesome it is when your favorite football team has a running back that just trucks people over. Getting excited about long pass plays is awesome and everything, but there’s something about the feeling you get when a stud running back starts plowing over defenders and ripping off large chunks of yards. It makes you want to tear off your shirt and start posing like Hulk Hogan. Ok, maybe it’s just me who wants to do that every time Lacy runs someone over…

B.J. Raji
It’s been a solid run for Raji the last three games. He sniffed out a couple of screen passes against the Bears and has done an excellent job of making plays at the point of attack. Big, nimble and smart. That’s been Raji over this recent stretch of games.

Brett Favre
Wait a minute. What’s he doing on this report?

Steady

James Starks
Did Starks install a turbo button on his back when he was out? Seriously, I don’t remember him being nearly this fast. He’s firing through holes like he’s been shot out of a high-caliber rifle from a deer hunter perched high up in a tree in the woods of Mondovi, Wis.

Tim Mashthay
Punts from Masthay kept pinning the Bears deep on Monday night. Too bad the Packers defense didn’t follow through and force a turnover or make a stand late in the game.