Category Archives: 2014 – 2015 Season

23

July

What Packers Rivals Really Think – Bears Edition

Packers, Bears, fans, interview, NFC North, rivalryAs Packers fans, we know how we view our team and their NFC North Rivals. But I’d guess most of us are curious as to how opposing fans view the same subjects. So to find out, one of our regular readers/commenters here, Jesse Cook (aka Bearmeat) contacted a few friends who are (somewhat) sane fans of our Division rivals and peppered them (pun intended) with questions about our team and theirs.

First up, Chicago Bears:

1.     Let’s start big picture here: What is the fan perception of the Bears organization in the next 5 years? Where is the arrow pointing? Do you approve of the job Emery and Trestman have done so far?

  • “In Emery we Trest”.  That seems to be the motto amongst most Bears fans in town these days.  I would say that the fan perception of the Bears is that this organization has finally joined the modern era of football, both from a General Manager and Coaching standpoint.  As every failed player from the Lovie/Angelo Era is shed, more positivitiy takes its  There is much optimism for the near future of this organization as Emery and Trestman continue their growth together.

2.     What do Bears fans think about the Cutler contract? Seems like a t for (so far) middling production?

  • Cutler has and will always be a polarizing topic in Chicago.  There is some reason for optimism for his 2014-15 season.  Another year under the high-powered Trestman offense, an improved offensive line, most of his top offensive weapons back.
  • In regards to Cutler’s contract, I think it’s beneficial for both sides.  For the Bears, it gives them options on how to handle their future at QB.  It’s basically a 3 year deal (average $18 mil a year *cough*), giving the Bears the option to turn it into a 4-7 year deal as they choose.  If they like what Cutler is doing, they can stick with him, or if they don’t they can cut him. Or maybe they bring him back for an extra year as they groom a potential new QB.  So yes, there’s a lot of money to be handed out the next three years, but they have plenty of wiggle room after that.

3.     A lot of Packer fans wanted Shea McClellin at ROLB 2 years ago. Yo got him and he hasn’t worked out at RDE, so he’s now moving to SLB. How does he look?

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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.

21

July

Packers Xs and Os: What We Might See From McCarthy’s Up-Tempo Offense (Part 1)

Will Aaron Rodgers be leading an up-tempo or no huddle offense in 2014? (Photo credit: Jeff Hanisch/USA Today).

Will Aaron Rodgers be leading an up-tempo or no huddle offense in 2014? (Photo credit: Jeff Hanisch/USA Today).

This off season, Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy mentioned two philosophical adjustments he would like to see his offense implement this year: 1) run a faster up-tempo game plan with 75 plays per game, and 2) have three-down players on the field to limit the number of substitutions, which will speed up the game tempo.

These are pretty lofty goals, but the Packers do have the offensive personnel to execute it, particularly because their top three running backs (Eddie Lacy, James Starks, and DuJuan Harris) are three-down backs. The biggest question mark will be if their starting tight end is up to the task of multiple formations and assignments.

In order to execute those two offensive objectives, it’s more than just snapping the ball with plenty of time left on the play clock; it’s an elaborate implementation of situation football.

As my standard disclaimer, I’ve never seen McCarthy’s playbook and none of us will know how he will go about carrying out these plans until the week one opening game against the Seattle Seahawks. But, I will speculate about some things I expect us to see while the Packers are in their up-tempo game.

When to Go Up-Tempo

The offense should only go up-tempo when the score is close or they are behind. If they are sitting on a large lead, it makes sense to slow down the plays to bleed the clock. But, there’s also down and distance rules, as well as clock management strategies, that should be considered.

  • 1st and 2nd downs at almost any distance to gain are acceptable for up-tempo and no huddle.
  • 3rd down and 7 yards or less are also acceptable for up-tempo and no huddle. Longer 3rd downs often necessitate a huddle to ensure the best play call and allow the offense to slow down and gain composure. That is, unless, the offense is in a two-minute drill.
  • Re-huddle after clock stoppages (penalties, out of bounds, incomplete passes, change of possession, instant replay review, etc).

Three-Down 11 Personnel 

20

July

2014 Packers ILB Position – Last Year’s Safety?

Brad Jones and AJ Hawk

Brad Jones and AJ Hawk

Won’t be long now! We can stop speculating on all things Packers in a few long days from now.  This offseason has been very good, talent has been added in Peppers and Guion for Defensive line.

There is a ton of talent heading into their second year. Baktiari, Boyd, Lacy, Jones, Hyde, Barrington, Palmer, Mulumba and White all earned playing time last year.  Every NFL coach and GM will tell you the biggest jump is going into that second year.

You add the players returning from injury in Bulaga, Sherrod, Matthews, Tretter, Worthy and getting players that were just banged up for most of the year like the Jones, both Datone and Brad were hampered with injuries, Perry played on a broken foot. These returning players account for five first round picks a second and a 4th. Not having those players on the field hurt the Packers in 2013 and will add a big boost for 2014.

You add another draft class to increase competition and this camp will be fun to watch.

I have heard more about the Packers not drafting an Inside Linebacker then about getting the best all around safety in the draft. From a lot of comments through out the Packer world, many think the defense is doomed because of not getting an ILB.  I am not one of those.

Safety was a bigger need, Changing the lineup of the Defensive line was a bigger need, Wide Receiver was a bigger need. When you are one injury away from Miles White being your #3 WR, it is a big need.

The situation at ILB is far from bad or will even be a hindrance to the 2014 defense. I have never understood the crap piled on Hawk for his eight years with the team. In 2013 Hawk became the Packers All Time Leading Tackler. When you look at the history of the Packers that is no small feat. That record stood for 24 years and that player took 11 years to do it.  He again lead the team in tackles last year, had 5 sacks and one Int with 5 passes defensed. He has missed 2 games in 8 years and yet so many just plain hate him.

20

July

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers football

As training camp approaches, I feel really good about the Packers cornerbacks this season.

It’s a deep group, and the depth includes a nice mix of players. There are proven players (Tramon Williams), good players still on the upswing (Sam Shields) and talented players who have yet to establish themselves, but have still achieved some type of success in their short careers (Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde).

There’s also players like Davon House and Demetri Goodson who could come out of nowhere and exceed expectations.

I wish I could say the same about the rest of the defense. No, I’m not predicting another season of doom and gloom when the other team has the ball, but the depth mix isn’t there with the other defensive position groups like it is at cornerback.

I realize that every position group can’t be stacked, especially with the salary cap. And I get that there will be questions in many spots when you’re a team like the Packers who rely so heavily on young talent. I just wish the depth mix was different at linebacker, safety and defensive line.

If you look at the offensive side of the ball, every position group (except maybe for tight end) has a good depth mix of proven veterans, players who are already good but could be great, and youngsters with potential.

If A.J. Hawk gets hurt or Brad Jones flounders again, there’s not much to be excited about beyond Jamari Lattimore. If Ha Ha Clinton-Dix doesn’t pan out, we’re looking at another season of crossing our fingers that Morgan Burnett turns into a player. If Julius Peppers is past his prime, we have to hope that Nick Perry stays healthy or some other player we’ve never heard of breaks out. If B.J. Raji is useless again, who’s going to anchor the middle in the base package?

Hopefully players like Datone Jones, Sam Barrington, Sean Richardson, Josh Boyd and Carl Bradford shine in the preseason and put some of these concerns rest. Back in 2010, I thought the cornerback group would struggle with depth. Then a guy named Sam Shields emerged and helped the Packers win the Super Bowl.

Here’s hoping something like that happens again.

Packers News, Notes and Links

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.

18

July

Three Questions Heading Into Packers Training Camp

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Clinton-Dix is vying for a starting spot at safety after being the Packers’ top draft pick in 2014

With the Green Bay Packers opening their 2014 training camp in less than a week, I took to Twitter to find out what our followers’ and readers’ top questions were about this year’s team.  Thank you to those who submitted theirs and I’ll certainly be doing this again throughout camp and the regular season.

1.  What does Micah Hyde bring to the table that Ha Ha Clinton-Dix doesn’t and vice versa?

There has already been a lot of discussion about the safety position in Green Bay this offseason.  For the first time in over 60 years, Packers safeties recorded zero interceptions in a full season in 2013.

Perhaps the fans in Green Bay have become spoiled after seeing the likes of Leroy Butler, Darren Sharper and Nick Collins grace the gridiron in green and gold.  Still, it’s hard to argue that the production at safety since Collins was forced to retire in 2011 has been subpar.

Heading into this season and before the draft, the team let incumbent starter M.D. Jennings depart in free agency and there was much talk that they would give Hyde a look at safety along side Morgan Burnett.  Sure enough, Hyde took most of the first team reps during OTA’s and mini camp.

The Packers drafted Clinton-Dix with their first pick in this year’s draft and more questions swirled about whether he would become the immediate starter or if he would have to compete for his role.

Clinton-Dix worked almost exclusively with the second team during the spring sessions but the Packers will give him every chance to earn a starting position throughout the preseason.  Not all first rounders start right away, but the Packers were addressing a need with the first rounder and likely can’t afford to have him sitting on the bench this season.

When Casey Hayward was injured last season, Hyde emerged as a serviceable fill-in at slot corner.  With as much nickel as the Packers tend to deploy, that will certainly be a position of great need and importance in 2014.  Hayward expects to be back, but we won’t know where the Packers stand at slot corner until camp gets underway.