Category Archives: Spencer Havner

13

August

Browns 27 Packers 17 – First Impressions of Preseason Game 1

Green Bay running back Ryan Grant vs. Cleveland BrownsBefore a way-less than capacity crown in Cleveland, the Green BayPackers saw their first real action of the 2011 season against Mike Holmgren’s Cleveland Browns:

 

Rodgers calls tails and wins the toss. Randall Cobb is back to return the kick and does a nice job extending the return for another 5-8 yds when it looked like nothing was there.

On the Brown’s first drive, Cleveland showed they knew exactly who to attack, going after Jarret Bush and Pat Lee. Lee with his man all the way but never turns to see the ball. It was Ahmad Carroll-like.

Packers kickoff team lines up in a three point stance to start. Intended to give them more explosion (quicker start with only a 5 yd run-up) and less chance of anyone cheating and going offsides.

Marshall Newhouse gets totally abused at right tackle. But what is he doing there? I don’t remember one report of his lining up there in practice, and he was a 3 year starter at LT in college. I guess they’re throwing him in there like they did with Bulaga?

Seems like when Matt Flynn is in trouble, he either doesn’t see or is afraid to throw downfield. Always goes to the closest guy.

Spencer Havner is a touchdown magnet. Footballs in the end zone are just drawn to him.

The Packers are doing a lot of juggling on the O-line in the first half. Lang and Sherrod aleternate at LG, then Lang goes to LT with Sherrod at LG. Then they swap.  All the while Newhouse is over at RT.

Matt Flynn hangs in there under some heavy pressure to lead a nice two-minute drive at the end of the first half.

DJ Williams looks like a wide receiver running routes downfield.

Blocking is a whole other issue for Williams. Browns overload the right side with four player. DJ Williams in the backfield to help. He chooses to block a rusher that is already being blocked. never looks outside. The sack of Harrell resulting in the TD is on Williams.

Cobb’s been getting interfered with all night. Finally got a call.

Graham Harrell off to a very shaky start – does not look comfortable handling pressure at all.

I’m liking how my guy Tori Gurley looks. Hope he gets more chances.

---- Get AddToAny
29

July

Green Bay Packers 2011 Training Camp: Previewing the Offense

Let’s take a quick look at how the Green Bay Packers offense stacks up heading into training camp by breaking down each position individually. Packers training camp starts Saturday, July 30th in De Pere, Wisconsin.

Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Matt Flynn, Graham Harrell

The Packers head into the 2011 season with likely the best 1-2 combination at quarterback in the NFL. Starter Aaron Rodgers put up fantastic numbers for the third consecutive year, throwing for 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions while narrowly missing out on becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards in his first three seasons under center.

He didn’t let up once the playoffs started, as he threw for three scores in a win over Philadelphia then thrashed the Falcons in the NFC Divisional round with one of the more impressive playoff performances in Packers playoff history. He completed 86.1 percent of his passes that night (31-for-36) for 366 yards and three touchdowns. In the Super Bowl, Rodgers took home MVP honors for his 304-yard, 3-touchdown masterpiece against the NFL’s No. 1 rated defense. He’s a bonafide regular season MVP candidate heading into the season.

Concussions were Rodgers’ kryptonite, however, as he suffered two (at Washington, at Detroit) during the regular season. The latter kept him out of a huge matchup with the New England Patriots, but that allowed backup Matt Flynn to showcase his ever-improving skill set in primetime. Flynn put up Rodgers-like numbers, throwing for 251 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-27 loss that turned out to be a jumping-off point for the Packers playoff run.

There was talk that Flynn, who will be a free agent after the ’11 season, might be traded to a quarterback-needy team this offseason, but the Packers seem intent on holding onto him as a valuable backup. With Rodgers’ injury history, that could turn out to be an important non-move. Even he if does leave after the season, he’s worth more to the Packers this year as a backup than a mid-to-low draft choice.

If they would have dealt him, any injury to Rodgers might have thrown Graham Harrell into the starting mix. While he put up huge numbers and was fourth in the Heisman voting his senior year at Texas Tech, Harrell is obviously raw in many areas. He went undrafted in ’09 and spent sometime in the CFL before latching on in Green Bay. The league’s lockout also cost him valuable time in Mike McCarthy’s quarterback school. The Packers chose not to draft or sign any quarterback this offseason, so his No. 3 spot on the depth chart seems somewhat secure.

18

July

Bringing in the Cavalry: A Look at the Packers Injured Reserve

Ryan Grant Injury - Packers injured reserved

Ryan Grant's injury against the Philadelphia Eagles was one of the biggest blows to the offense last season.

With the NFL lockout well into its fourth month now, there has been ample talk of which teams will fare better with a limited offseason. One of those teams, of course, is the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. But it’s not their championship status that has people convinced they’ll be ready. No, most people point to the (now cliché) fact that they have “16 players returning from injured reserve.”

While this is certainly the case, I started thinking about this claim a little more in depth. I wondered: Will all sixteen of those players really be making a difference?

Sure, guys like Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant will have a HUGE impact upon their return. But what about a guy like Spencer Havner or even Brady Poppinga? What are they really going to be bringing back to the table?

Here’s a quick look at each player that ended up injured reserve last year and what their potential impact will be upon their return. They are ordered by the date of their injuries:

Josh Bell, CB

Type of Injury: Foot Sprain
When Injured:
Training Camp (August 10, 2010)
Impact for 2011:
None – The Packers offered Bell an injury settlement during camp, which he refused. After the Super Bowl ring controversy in June, it’s clear the team plans to go on without him next season.

#91 Justin Harrell, DE

Type of Injury: Knee (ACL)
When Injured:
Week 1 @ Philadelphia Eagles
Impact for 2011:
Questionable – Harrell could actually be a big influence on the 2011 season; however, one still has to be cautious with his downright unlucky injury history. If Harrell can manage to stay active for more than a game, then he might be able to do some damage along the line. We all know how big of an “if” that is, though.

#25 Ryan Grant, RB

Type of Injury: Ankle
When Injured:
Week 1 @ Philadelphia Eagles
Impact for 2011:
High – There’s no question that the Packers severely missed their primary running back for most of last season. Brandon Jackson just couldn’t get the job done, and James Starks, while showing a lot of promise, is still young and relatively inexperienced. Grant will provide some much-needed consistency to the ground game, even if he is splitting carries with Starks.

30

March

2011 Draft Prep: Green Bay Packers Needs by Position – Tight Ends

In this third installment of our 2011 Draft Prep series looking at the Green Bay Packers’ needs by position, we are going to analyze how the tight end position currently stands. Strengths, weaknesses, depth, and uncertainties will all be examined to determine the urgency of need in regards to next season.

This series is meant to help us figure out the needs of the team and how the draft could be used to improve the weaker areas. While Ted Thompson largely uses the “best player available” (BPA) approach, his decision to trade up or down the board is affected by what position players he would prefer to have. Additionally, the picking up of players in the later rounds and in undrafted free agency is often based on need, since the talent is less defined.

CURRENT PLAYERS:

#88 Jermichael Finley
24 yrs. old / 3 yrs. exp.
Signed through 2011

#81 Andrew Quarless
22 yrs. old / 1 yr. exp.
Signed through 2013

#83 Tom Crabtree
25 yrs. old / 1 yr. exp.
Signed through 2012

#41 Spencer Havner
28 yrs. old / 2 yrs. exp.
Free Agent (tender offered)

* Contract information acquired from RotoWorld.com

POSITION STRENGTHS:

Jermichael Finley could be the best receiving tight end in the league right now, and his case for this distinction would be much stronger if not for his season-ending knee injury. In the first four games of 2010, Finley had 21 receptions for 301 yards and a touchdown, which would have put him on pace for a 1,000 yard season.

But beyond the numbers, Finley is just a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses. Mike McCarthy has lined him up as both a tight end and wide receiver, trying to take advantage of his height and his speed. He is also a big red zone target, not only because of his size, but also because of his great hands.

Behind Finley, the Packers have picked up two promising, young tight ends in Andrew Quarless and Tom Crabtree. Though neither player was stellar in his role this season, each one has shown the potential to be solid cogs in the offensive machine.

For a position that McCarthy likes to utilize in his offense, he has a great group of talent and depth to work with next season.

POSITION WEAKNESSES:

27

March

Ranking the Packers 2010 Roster: Players 67-30

As is the case for nearly ever Super Bowl champion, the Green Bay Packers assembled a deep and talented roster for their 2010-2011 championship season.

However, unlike most champions, the Packers had to do it the unlucky way.

15 players—many important contributors—landed on season-ending injured reserve, and Green Bay had to call on the bottom of GM Ted Thompson’s emergency board for players to even field a full roster.

In the first of three articles ranking the Packers’ roster, you’ll find many of those players that no one expected to contribute.

Don’t let the rankings fool you, however. During the Packers’ Super Bowl season, every player on this roster was important to achieving the final goal.

Here are players 67 through 30. (Note: Players who ended on the practice squad are not included, but those who ended on the injured reserve are.) This will be followed up by players 29-11 and then finally, the top 10 players on the Packers roster.

67. CB Josh Bell: Landed on the injured reserve in mid-August with a knee injury and probably won’t be back next season. He might forever be known as the guy who gave up the game-winner to Mike Wallace and the Steelers in 2009.

66. CB Josh Gordy: Activated from the practice squad for the final nine games of the season but never saw the field. The Packers like Gordy however, and he’ll get another look as a project player and is probable to make the practice squad.

65. LB Diryal Briggs: Brought in towards the end of October and contributed a handful of special teams tackles. Briggs is only 25, but chances are he gets flushed out by the return of several IR linebackers this summer.

64. G/C Evan Dietrich-Smith: Was brought back after being cut in training camp on Dec. 31 and served as Scott Wells’ backup for the final stretch. While he never saw the field, he’ll get a chance in camp to win a spot.

63. CB Brandon Underwood: The Packers have high hopes for him but he’s yet to realize any potential. That, along with his recent legal troubles, will make Underwood fight for a spot on this team moving forward.

62. LB Matt Wilhelm: Was added along with Briggs at the end of October as a true street free agent. Wilhelm was also guilty of the facemask that all but gave the Falcons a Week 13 win, and won’t be back next season.

23

March

According to Hobbes: Packers Offseason Primer on the NFL Combine: Tight Ends

Tight Ends: Here’s the fourth of a series of articles looking specifically at the NFL combine and the Packers’ drafting tendencies. (read here for the rationale for this series and here for quarterbacks, here for running backs and here for wide receivers).  This article will use the combine numbers from previous players drafted by GM Ted Thompson as a guide for what tight ends are likely to fit into the Packers’ scheme.

Again, this is merely an attempt to make a best guess based on statistics at which players the Packers might be interested in, game tape naturally trumps combine numbers, so take all of this with a grain of salt.  But I believe it will make for some interesting discussion.  Also listed below are also two tight ends in this year’s draft who I think fit the Packers scheme the best, based on their combine numbers.

Statistics of tight ends drafted by the Packers:

Name Height Weight 40-Yard 3-Cone Shuttle Vertical Broad Bench
Clark Harris 6’5″ 257.00 4.80 4.40 32.00 112.00 21.00
Jermichael Finley 6’4″ 240.00 4.82 7.15 4.38 27.50 117.00 20.00
Andrew Quarless 6’4″ 248.00 4.69 7.29 4.57 32.00 112.00 23.00
Average 6’4″ 248.33 4.77 7.22 4.45 30.50 113.67 21.33
StDev 0.58 8.50 0.07 0.10 0.10 2.60 2.89 1.53

What the Packers are looking for: As much as GM Ted Thompson likes to draft wide receivers, Thompson has only drafted 3 tight ends, which probably means that Thompson doesn’t value tight ends as much as other teams do.  This probably is due in part to the fact that Thompson seems perfectly happy with drafting tight ends that are not considered “complete” (in the mold of Jason Witten or Dallas Clark who can pass catch and block) and instead focuses purely on the receiving tight end.

Something else interesting to note is that all the tight ends that Thompson has drafted have been considered serious developmental projects; Clark Harris didn’t manage to get past the roster cut down, Finley had an atrocious rookie campaign and while Quarless had many more opportunities, his rookie season was also quite forgettable.  Perhaps the most ironic of all is that Jermichael Finley had a ridiculously bad combine; running a 4.82 is comparable to Brian Brohm, a quarterback, and Allen Barbre, an offensive lineman who outweighs Finley by 60 pounds.  His 27.5-inch vertical puts him second to last of all Packers drafted by Ted Thompson with only Breno Giacomini, another offensive lineman doing worse.

2

August

Green Bay Packers 2010 Roster Overcrowding: Is Tight End the New Fullback?

Just about any Packers fan knows (and laments about) how Green Bay kept 3 fullbacks on the 2009 roster. Could tight end be the position for roster overcrowding in 2010? As I mentioned on Cheesehead Radio last week, I think there’s a decent chance. Let me expand on that thought…

In 2009, the Packers selected Quinn Johnson in the 5th round of the NFL draft. Johnson had a hot and cold college career, but was unquestionably looked at as a physical specimen with athletic ability and raw talent that will require some time to develop.

In 2010, the Packers selected Andrew Quarless in the 5th round of the NFL draft. Quarless had a hot and cold college career, but was unquestionably looked at as an immature kid with athletic ability and raw talent that will require some time to develop.

Sound familiar?

In 2009, the Packers did not want to lose Quinn Johnson, by taking a chance on putting him on the practice squad. Certainly, a team like Carolina, who signed Tyrell Sutton and then later had to use him at fullback, would have taken Johnson in a heartbeat. If Johnson can learn to use his skills wisely and improve his pass blocking, the Packers will be very pleased with this pick in a few years.

In 2010, they have drafted a tight end that has a similar skill set as Jermichael Finley, and fits the mold of the modern-day NFL tight end. Putting Quarless on the practice squad is probably not an option. Let me tell you, as a Penn State fan that has seen him play in person several times, the kid has talent. If he can grow up and focus on his job, the Packers will be very happy with this pick in a few years.

Sound familiar?

In 2009, the Packers were supposedly putting an emphasis on special teams (not to say that it worked, though). Not being very deep at talent in the running back position, rather than keep a 4th RB that would never see the field, they kept 3 fullbacks, holding on to Hall and Kuhn, special teams contributors.

In 2010, the Packers are putting a major emphasis on special teams again (no. really! Mike McCarthy said so!). This year, with the drafting of James Starks and signing of Quinn Porter, keeping 4 running backs and two fullbacks is a more logical possibility. That means they probably lose a special teams contributor (Kuhn or Hall) at FB, but can gain one somewhere else – the logical choice would be at tight end.