Category Archives: Quarterbacks

23

July

Is Jarrett Boykin A Replacement Player?

Jarrett Boykin will be slotted into the coveted No. 3 wide receiver next season. He's ready because of one person.

Jarrett Boykin

Wide receivers are known as the “shiny hood ornament” of the NFL because largely their production is tied to their quarterbacks; even a wide receiver like Larry Fitzgerald or Andre Johnson have had abysmal seasons with ineffectual quarterbacks behind center.  Furthermore, great/good wide receivers have left for greener pastures in free agency only to be met with an icy reception; Greg Jennings became the latest ex-Packer to move to Minneapolis and needless to say his production suffered when it was Christian Ponder and Josh Freeman throwing him the ball as opposed to Aaron Rodgers.

On the flip side, it almost seems like you can throw just about anybody into a jersey and make them a productive wide receiver if they are being fed the ball by Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Tom Brady; wide receivers without enormous physical talent Wes Welker, Pierre Garcon and again Jennings have all had great careers even if they don’t look like Calvin Johnson.  Of course, it’s not like a wide receiver is nothing without his quarterback, the question is how much.

The receiver I was most interested in was Jarrett Boykin; an unheralded, undrafted wide receiver out of Virigina Tech who initially signed on with the Jacksonville Jaguars only to be cut after a couple weeks.  After being picked up by the Packers, he was one of the surprise rookies to make the squad in 2012 with the likes of Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, James Jones Jermichael Finley, Donald Driver and Greg Jennings all on the roster.

I’ll be the first to say I didn’t notice his name on the transaction wire nor did I predict him to make the roster in 2012 (this was the year of the Torey Gurley vs. Diondre Borel debate) nor did I think he would he do much on the field, and needless to say I, along with just about everyone else was in for a pleasant surprise.  Now with two years under his belt, people are legitimately thinking of him as a viable #2/#3 receiver; he’s definitely not a #1 who can take the top off of a defense nor is he the shifty guy catches everything, but he’s a great role player who does everything good enough to contribute on a consistent basis.  Considering his rise from unknown prospect to perhaps one of the up and coming wide receivers, is this a product of good talent or a good quarterback?

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6

June

Assessing the Green Bay Packers Quarterback Situation

Matt Flynn & Scott Tolzien

Flynn and Tolzien should return as familiar faces behind Rodgers in 2014

For a team that whose quarterback fortunes have been touched by the football Gods themselves over the past 20+ years, it would seem that the Green Bay Packers could probably write the book on how to handle and develop the most important position on the field.

Alas, they learned a tough lesson in 2013 and one that hopefully will set up a more ideal situation with their signal callers in 2014.  I tend to like to revisit history quite a bit so let’s recap the quarterback situation last year for the Packers.

Heading into 2013, Green Bay had Aaron Rodgers, Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman set to go at quarterback and there was little question about whether they would all be on the roster, just a matter of how.

There was hesitation about Harrell after his subpar performances during the 2012 season but his experience in the offense was enough to instill the coaching staff’s confidence in him.  Coleman was expected, by many, to step up and make a jump between his first and second seasons.  Still, he was a possibility to land on the team’s practice squad again.

Neither of them made it to week one and questions began to fly about why so much was expected out of such mediocre players.  Were the Packers losing their luster in being able to develop young passers?  Both Harrell and Coleman were released during the preseason and the Packers signed veteran Vince Young, who had not played at all the season prior.  Young was a complete dud and the Packers released him after the last preseason game.  The Packers then turned to Seneca Wallace to back up Rodgers but he had no time to practice or play with his new teammates in a game situation before the season started.

While Rodgers had missed a few games up until then, there was little reason to be too concerned about who was behind #12 as he had a strong history of being healthy and available.  Unfortunately, Rodgers’ collarbone wasn’t quite as strong and was broken during a week six game against the Chicago Bears.  Suddenly the Packers and their fans were in unfamiliar territory:  they would have to rely on their backup quarterback for an extended period of time.

16

May

Cory’s Corner: NFC North is ganging up to stop Packers

Kyle Fuller (17) was one of the best cornerbacks in the draft and the Bears took him 14th overall.

Kyle Fuller (17) was the second cornerback off the board, taken 14th overall by the Bears.

Taking a peek at the rest of the draft picks in the NFC North, it’s apparent where the priorities lie.

Of the Packers nine picks, four of them were offensive skill players. Green Bay went with defense to open up the draft but then quickly reloaded Aaron Rodgers with capable weapons.

While Green Bay’s defense wasn’t exactly dynamite last year, the addition of Julius Peppers is going to change the pass rush and pass coverage.

The Bears knew exactly which way they had to go after suffering through the humiliating 48-yard Rodgers bomb to Randall Cobb — defense. And that’s exactly what Chicago did. The Bears only picked two offensive skill positions and they waited until the fourth round to pick their first one.

While everyone was dogging Detroit for making the questionable first round selection of tight Eric Ebron, the Lions responded after that. They addressed their defensive and offensive lines, secondary and linebacking corps. Just like Chicago, Detroit only picked two offensive skill positions.

That brings me to the worst team in the NFC North last year. The Vikings have a lot of holes — namely at quarterback. But after taking Teddy Bridgewater at the end of the first round, Minnesota only took one more offensive skill position but really stressed its pass rush after losing Jared Allen to Chicago.

So what does this all mean? Everyone, as they should, respects the heck out of the Packers’ offense. They are sick and tired of watching Eddie Lacy run through them and Rodgers pass over them.

Which is why it’s pretty comical that when the other teams in the division collectively loaded up to stop the formidable Green Bay offense, the Packers simply shrug and add even more offense.

And that is why Ted Thompson will always keep you guessing. You may think you have an idea of what direction he is going to go, but he was throwing curveballs for two days — after the obvious Ha Ha Clinton-Dix pick to kick things off.

Obviously the X-factor is Peppers. Without acquiring Peppers prior to the draft, Thompson would have likely beefed up the defensive line or probably traded up to make sure that Ryan Shazier or C.J. Mosley secured the defensive front seven.

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.

30

April

Breaking Down Matt Flynn’s Contract

Matt Flynn led a fiery comeback for the Packers. And in some ways, the tie is a win.Coming into the 2014 season, many fans placed backup quarterback as the top priority of the offseason.  It’s easy to see why, the Packers were a drastically different (i.e. drastically bad) team after Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken clavicle and it was only some late season heroics from “Plan F” Matt Flynn that the Packers even had a chance at a playoff run at the end of the season.  The Packers cannot expect to get so lucky that the Bears, Vikings and notably Lions happened to be even worse in 2014 and one of the quickest, most efficient fixes that can be made is having a viable backup quarterback on deck in case something happens to Rodgers again.  Keep in mind, Rodgers is now at higher risk of breaking his clavicle again (which is part of the nature of the injury) and is already at risk of concussions (which he has had a history of in the NFL), so it’s not a wasted effort to have someone ready right now.

In a previous article I have argued that after the initial rush of free agency, it didn’t make any sense to not resign Matt Flynn as quickly as possible.  As a 6 year veteran, his minimum contract was around $730,000, which is fully un-guaranteed and with offseason rosters being expanded to 90, theres no reason to not “waste” a spot on another quarterback in the offseason.  Furthermore I argued that should the Packers feel Scott Tolzein or any rookie quarterback was a better option, they could cut Flynn with basically zero penalty.  Commenters argued that it was possible that it was actually Flynn who was holding up negotiations as he was waiting until after the draft or hoping for a camp injury in order to get a better deal.

Well the financial details of Flynn’s deal were finally made public and I will say that I was a little surprised by the specifics, especially considering the scenario that occurred (more on that below). Below is some 1-year contracts signed by established, veteran backup quarterbacks in 2014:

  • Mark Sanchez (PHI) – $2.5 million total, $750,000 guaranteed, additional $2 million incentive clause
  • Shaun Hill (STL) – $1.75 million total, $500,000 guaranteed, additional $500,000 incentive clause
  • Tavaris Jackson (SEA) – $1.25 million total, $1.25 million guaranteed, additional $750,000 incentive clause
  • Matt Flynn (GB) – $970,000 total, $75,000 guaranteed, additional $100,000 incentive clause
26

April

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: QB Teddy Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater

Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater

Packers prospect profile:  QB Teddy Bridgewater

Player Information: Teddy Bridgewater,  QB, Louisville,  6-2, 214 pounds  Hometown: Miami, FL

STATS

NFL Combine:

Vertical jump: 3o inches

3-cone drill: 7.17 seconds

Broad jump: 113 inches

20-yard shuttle: 4.20 seconds

News and Notes:

Threw only four interceptions his final season. … Completed over 68 percent of his passes and threw just 24 interceptions in his career. … Dual threat QB out of high school, but developed as a passer in Louisville’s pro-style passing game. … Holds Lousivlle record of at least one touchdown pass in 22 straight games. … Third player in Lousiville history to throw for over 9,000 yards. … Rallied Lousiville to a win over Rutgers in 2012 despite wearing a cast on his wrist. … Graduated in just three years

What they’re saying about him: 

  • CBSSports.com:  While Bridgewater’s arm is impressive, the poise, vision and touch he demonstrates could serve as a “how-to” video on effective quarterback play. Critics will continue to point out Bridgewater’s flaws. He is not as big or strong as Andrew Luck nor as nimble as a healthy Robert Griffin III. Among the quarterbacks potentially available in the 2014 draft, he’s the most polished and accurate.
  • NFL.com:  Terrific competitor. Extremely driven to succeed. Well-prepared and confident in his approach. Operated a progression-read offense where he is asked to scan the whole field and help steer protections. Footwork is very clean and in rhythm — throws on balance with sound mechanics, a fluid delivery and smooth stroke. Very good timing, touch and anticipation — throws receivers open.
  • MMQB: Compared on film to other potential quarterbacks in his draft class, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater doesn’t jump off the screen. But NFL teams still like what they see, and when they dig a little deeper, that like will turn to love.

Video:

Video Analysis:.

  • Bridgewater can really move. But more importantly, it’s obvious that he understands the importance of squaring his shoulders and maintaining proper mechanics while on the move. Check out the throw 35 seconds into the clip.
  • The knock on Bridgewater is that he’s skinny. But this isn’t the WWE. He’s going to be throwing passes, not body-slamming people and flexing his muscles. The kid can flat-out throw the ball and is mobile enough to avoid big hits on his smallish frame.
22

April

Cory’s Corner: Don’t underestimate Derek Carr

One of the first things that pops into people’s heads when talk turns to Derk Carr is his team’s schedule.

I thought Wichita State buried the schedule theory once and for all this past spring after becoming the first team to enter the NCAA men’s basketball tournament undefeated for the first time since 1991.

Derek Carr is rated as the seventh-best quarterback according to ESPN. He led the nation this year in total offense, passing yards, passing yards per game, passing touchdowns and completions per game.

Derek Carr is rated as the seventh-best quarterback according to ESPN. He led the nation this past year in total offense (5,199), passing yards (5,082), passing yards per game (390.9), passing touchdowns (50) and completions per game (34.85).

Don’t get me wrong, having a solid all-around schedule does help but it shouldn’t be what leads your resume. Production should.

And Carr has certainly been productive as a three-year starter for Fresno State. Carr has 25 school records and 21 Mountain West Conference records after capping off a senior campaign where he led the nation in passing yards (5,082) and passing touchdowns (50).

Carr is rated as the seventh-best quarterback in the NFL Draft according to ESPN, but what I like about Carr is how he moves the chains.

Consider that his average third-down percentage was 58 percent last year compared to his percentage on third down with 10 yards or more to go was 66 percent.

Carr’s career record of 24-15 may not look imposing. But then again, Carr wasn’t playing alongside future top NFL picks like quarterbacks that played at LSU, USC, Alabama and Notre Dame — all schools that recruited him. The last Bulldogs player to be taken in the first round was Ryan Mathews in 2010. Carr has started from 2011-2013 and the highest Fresno State player drafted in that span was the fourth round.

Another negative for Carr, fair or unfair, is that Carr’s brother David didn’t exactly have an enjoyable time in the NFL. In a six-year starting span he only tallied a 23-56 record. But a lot of that was because he played behind a sieve of an offensive line which propelled him to lead the league in number of times sacked in a season three times.

Carr says that he most admires Brett Favre because he never quits, which is why he proudly wears a No. 4 jersey. That never-say-die attitude is easy to spot in wins, but I was glad to see it in a loss. With Fresno State down by 18 with 4:46 left in the game to San Jose State this past year, Carr completed 6 of 10 passes and promptly led his Bulldogs to a touchdown and a two-point conversion.