Category Archives: Andrew Quarless

27

June

Packers See Dramatic Turn at Tight End

Richard Rodgers

High expectations have been set for Rodgers in 2014. Is he the Packers next starting tight end?

At this time last season, the Green Bay Packers were preparing for training camp and the position battles that would ensue.  Tight end was not among them, as they had veteran Jermichael Finley in the fold and the annual talk about his having a “breakout” season was in full swing.

In 2012, Finley had just over 60 catches for two touchdowns.  Hardly the kind of numbers you would expect from a guy who was regularly hyped as a focal point in the Packers offense.

Through six games last season, Finley had 25 catches and three touchdowns.  He missed most of week three against the Cincinnati Bengals due to a concussion so those stats actually came in just five games.

Finley’s form seemed to look closer to the version we saw in 2009 versus that over the past three seasons.  He seemed primed to finally achieve the infamous “p” word that has followed him throughout his career:  potential.

That’s when catastrophe struck.  Mid-way through their week seven game against the Cleveland Browns, Finley took a shot from Browns safety Tashaun Gipson that left him motionless on the Lambeu Field turf.  Finley was taken off the field and immediately to a local medical center for evaluation of his spine.  His season was over and the Packers were facing a big loss at the tight end position.

Fast forward to today and we know that Finley has been medically cleared by the surgeon who performed the surgery to fuse his spine.  Still, Finley’s future remains a question mark, as no NFL team has cleared him to resume his career and he remains a free agent.

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy did speak about Finley during recent organized team activities (OTA’s) and, in essence, said that Finley is a free agent but that he sees him as a Packer and wishes him the best.  The known entity that was Finley surely still intrigues the Packers, but I’m one of those in the camp that doubt his return to the team.  Not this season or any, for that matter.

Under the assumption that Finley won’t be back, that leaves the Packers in the midst of their search for their next starting tight end.  With Finley, the Packers had a piece to their offense that they could feature and build quite a bit of the scheme around.  Behind Finley, that’s not so much the case.

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31

May

Cory’s Corner: Jermichael Finley’s future is not as a Packer

Jermichael Finley averaged 464 yards receiving and three touchdowns a season in six years spent as a Packer.

Jermichael Finley averaged 464 yards receiving and three touchdowns a season in six years spent as a Packer.

Perhaps the news that Jermichael Finley has been medically cleared is a clear vision of great things to come.

But the moment I heard the news, I merely shrugged my shoulders.

It’s great that Finley, an athletic marvel at the tight end position, was able to get his C3 and C4 vertebrates fused. I was one of the guys that thought he would never play again.

But now that he’s cleared, his future is not in Green Bay. First of all, I am not sure what kind of coin his agent Blake Baratz is going to command. But remember, Finley is coming off his two-year $14-million prove-it deal and especially after a bruised spinal cord, the 27-year-old will be looking for some security.

The Packers most definitely have a need at tight end. Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick haven’t been able to prove their worth consistently. Green Bay even rolled the dice with troubled Oregon star Colt Lyerla, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.

Secondly, before the injury, the Packers brass may have been pondering if it was worth it to keep Finley around. Finley was able to bring many double-teams to the middle of the field which gave guys like Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones one-on-one battles which they often won. However, when Finley was called upon to come up with a drive-extending grab on third down or a critical goal line catch, his hands frequently betrayed him.

But that’s not even the worst. His blocking skills were always something of a head scratcher. He was clearly motivated to run routes, catch passes and score touchdowns. He isn’t exactly wired to be a hard-charging blocker when the offense needs to salt the game away. And that’s why the Packers have kept four tight ends, an unheard of number, since 2010. Someone else must pick up the little things that he cannot or refuses to do.

Finally, just because the doctor that performed the procedure has medically cleared Finley doesn’t mean that team doctors won’t have questions and raise red flags. Finley still has to prove that he is not only capable of playing at his pre-injury level but he also must prove that he has the strong psyche to understand that teams, like it or not, will now be targeting his neck.

31

March

Xs and Os: Introduction to the Packers Running Game

Packers running back was a Pro Bowler and Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Packers running back Eddie Lacy was a Pro Bowler and Offensive Rookie of the Year during 2013-2014.

We’ve heard a lot about the Packers’ run blocking schemes for several years. With the emergence of running back Eddie Lacy, we began to become even more obsessed with them.

The oft-maligned zone blocking scheme (ZBS) suddenly became everyone’s favorite while Lacy was running his way to Offensive Rookie of the Year.

However, the Packers are not strictly a ZBS team. They run multiple looks and concepts, but it just so happens that their bread and butter running play is out of a ZBS concept.

So, let’s take a look at a few of the most common running plays we can expect to see from Eddie Lacy and company.

Disclaimer 1: I have never seen Mike McCarthy’s playbook. All of my conclusions are from watching video. I could be wrong on interpreting his keys.

Disclaimer 2: This is an oversimplification for illustrative purposes only. Different defensive fronts and offensive formations will change the keys. Sight adjustments are too complex for one blog post.

Alright, let’s first inspect a few of the ZBS looks.

Basics of ZBS: Offensive linemen move in a slanting direction with the goal of moving the defensive line. Their job is to get in between their blocking assignment and the sideline. They value making lanes for the running back to choose over opening one specific hole.

21 Inside Zone Strong: This is the Packers’ main running play. It is from the 21 personnel (2 RB, 1 TE) and the running back chooses a cutback lane on the strong side (TE) of the formation.

Slide1

In this play the offensive line slants to the strong side. The center and back side guard double team the nose tackle, and the running back picks his preferred lane.

While most of the blockers slant to a single defender, whether on the line of scrimmage or off, the center and back side guard work in tandem in their combo block, but also key the Mike linebacker who is originally uncovered.

Slide2

At the snap of the ball, the guard blocks the inside hip (belt buckle region) of the nose tackle and the center aims for the outside hip. Once the guard has control, the center advances to the next level and cuts off the Mike linebacker before the running back arrives.

26

March

Patience and Proactivity Pay Off for Packers GM Ted Thompson

Ted Thompson manages the Packers roster by balancing patience and proactivity.

Ted Thompson manages the Packers roster by balancing patience and proactivity.

General manager Ted Thompson runs the Green Bay Packers football operations his way.

The Thompson way is characterized by accumulating draft picks, developing drafted players, re-signing young Packers players on the rise, and largely avoiding bidding wars with players leaving other teams during the opening of free agency.

Depending on the fans prospective, this is usually a love or hate relationship. Fans either love the draft and develop approach or long for big name signings in free agency.

However, Ted Thompson has utilized a combination of patience and proactivity to bring his vision of building a franchise to life.

Thompson isn’t afraid of free agency. Rather, he waits until the initial frenzy is over to avoid overpaying players. Doing this has yielded quality players in the past, including Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett, who were both signed in 2006.

Both Pickett and Woodson were integral players in the 2010 Super Bowl run, and when looking back at their contracts, they appeared to be relative bargains when compared to their contributions to the team.

When free agency opened in 2014, Thompson appeared to be quiet. While teams like the Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints were throwing money around like they printed it, Thompson waited.

By waiting until the overpaying binge subsided, he was able to sign defensive end Julius Peppers at a very competitive contract (3 years, $30 million) and bolster the interior defensive line with Letroy Guion (1 year, $1 million).

Will Peppers have the same impact as either Woodson or Pickett? We certainly hope so, but only time will tell.

Rather than panicking and overpaying impeding offensive free agents running back James Starks and tight end Andrew Quarless, Thompson was able to bring them back for a modest investment (2 years, $3.17 million and 2 years, $3 million, respectively).

Not only is Thompson patient, he’s also proactive.

He’s great at extending players before they ever hit free agency. Similarly, he has knack for re-signing his own players in that small window between when their contracts expire and when they’re able to test the market.

15

March

Cory Corner: Ted Thompson’s loyalty will pay dividends

Instead of bringing outside free agents, Ted Thompson has opted to reward loyalty and sign players to stay in Green Bay.

Instead of bringing in outside free agents, Ted Thompson has opted to reward loyalty and sign players to stay in Green Bay.

Ted Thompson is proving that devotion and dedication mean more than stats.

The Packers general manager has stuck to his draft and develop philosophy. He has signed four free agents in Sam Shields, Mike Neal, Andrew Quarless and even B.J. Raji to come back and play their home games at Lambeau Field.

I’ve seen and heard numerous people bash Thompson for not bringing in free agents from other teams in order to help the Packers win their fifth Super Bowl title.

Frankly, the fact that Thompson likes to embrace loyalty and reward his guys shouldn’t be overlooked.

Remember, when you bring in outside guys, there is a bit of a transition period as the newbies get acquainted with how things are run. They must get acclimated to the playbook, varying types of schemes for different types of situations and know what and how is expected.

Obviously, former players already know that. They’ve already got strong bonds with teammates, which doesn’t hurt the all-important team chemistry, but most importantly, they already know their roles.

Neal is coming back after a season in which he was tied for third on the team in sacks. It would be ridiculous to even assume that he would demand a Clay Matthews role as the focal point of the defense. But if the Packers had brought in a guy like DeMarcus Ware, Jared Allen or Julius Peppers who’s to say that wouldn’t have happened?

Same thing on the offensive side. Quarless all-of-a-sudden isn’t going to demand Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb targets because he knows his role in the delicate Packers ecosystem.

There were, heck there still are, decent guys available. Brian Orakpo is still hanging around, but since he was franchised by the Redskins nobody wants to part with two first round draft picks for a guy that is now arguing with Washington about whether he should be franchised as a linebacker or a defensive end. (It should be noted that the franchise designation as a linebacker is $11.455 million as opposed to $13.116 million for a defensive end).

13

March

NFL Free Agency: Packers Re-Sign TE Andrew Quarless

NFL, Green Bay Packers, NFL Free Agency, Packers free agency, Packers free agents, Andrew Quarless, Andrew Quarless contract, Andrew Quarless free agentThe Green Bay Packers have announced that they have re-signed tight end Andrew Quarless.  Terms of the new deal were not disclosed, but according to Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, it is a two year deal.

The tight end position had been labeled as one of the needs for the Packers this offseason after Jermichael Finley’s neck injury and subsequent unrestricted free agency.  With Finley’s football future in doubt, many wondered if the Packers would look outside the team for a tight end or give Quarless a shot.  He played well down the stretch last season and that apparently was enough for the Packers to bring him back for a couple more seasons.

Getting Quarless back is big after reports that Jermichael Finley is still awaiting medical clearance.  He’s reportedly a favorite to land with the Seattle Seahawks once/if doctors give him the all clear. That is still far from a certainty, however.

Green Bay had also reportedly been interested in former Texans tight end Owen Daniels and even had him in for a visit.  The signing of Quarless does not necessarily exclude the Packers from adding Daniels as Quarless and Brandon Bostick are currently the only tight ends under contract. Daniels was reportedly planning on visiting with the Washington Redskins soon, so the Packers will have some competition for his services.

As for Quarless, he finally began to show promise late in 2013.  He missed all of 2012 with a knee injury he suffered late in 2011.  He caught a touchdown and had over 50 receiving yards in two of the Packers’ final four games and was earning a much bigger role in the passing game.  Along with Bostick, the Packers have a pair of solid tight ends but may still be one player away from checking tight end off their need list.

Will it be Daniels or will it be someone else? Only Ted Thompson knows for sure so stayed tuned to ALLGBP.com for all your Packers free agency news!

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Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke

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14

February

Andrew Quarless Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

quarless_andrew_2151) Introduction:  “God’s gift” has been forgotten by many Packers fans after a gruesome knee/leg injury caused Andrew Quarless’ sophomore season to vanish.  However with the looming contract situation with Jermichael Finley and the loss of Greg Jennings during the offseason, there were plenty of balls to catch and Quarless’ figured to be one of the guys the Packers wanted to see before they decided on an extension.  The stars basically aligned themselves with Quarless, first with mounting injuries to the receiving core and then with a terrible neck injury to Jermichael Finley, and then with Aaron Rodgers being replaced by a spate of quarterbacks that would naturally look to for a tight end as a safety valve.  Unfortunately, Quarless did not capitalize on his fortunes and looks to make a fortune probably smaller than he hoped.

2) Profile:

Andrew Christopher Quarless

  • Age: 25
  • Born: 10/6/1988 in Brooklyn, NY
  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 252
  • College: Penn State
  • Rookie Year: 2010
  • NFL Experience: 4

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Moderately low. On one hand, Quarless suffered a brutal knee injury that was significant enough to cause him to miss the entire 2012 season.  Naturally it wasn’t expected for Quarless to immediately return to football shape let alone reintegrate himself back into the offense.  On the other hand, Quarless should have been fully healed after taking a year off was considered by many to be the Packers most complete tight end with the ability to both operate as an inline blocker (which is a little bit odd since he’s not a very good blocker), a pass catcher as well as the H-back/fullback that the Packers love to employ.  Add to that 2013 was Quarless’s contract year along with fellow tight end Jermichael Finley and the Packers were probably hoping that Quarless would blossom into a tight end that would lessen the blow should Finley find employment elsewhere next year.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Quarless’ best game of the season was undoubtedly against the hapless Falcons in week 14 where he recorded 6 receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown on a nice back shoulder throw with Matt Flynn under center.   Quarless’ lowlight was also undoubtedly against the Cleveland Browns in week 7 after he was thrusted into the spotlight with Jermichael Finley leaving with a neck injury.  Perhaps unready to be “the guy” or shook up over Finley’s injury, Quarless was abysmal in run blocking and failed to record a reception even with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball.