19

June

RB Franklin Not Returning to Packers

Johnathan Franklin

It was announced that Franklin will not be back with the Packers due to a neck injury sustained last season

The Green Bay Packers find themselves in a situation that is unfortunately all-too familiar to them.  It was announced today by head coach Mike McCarthy that running back Johnathan Franklin will not return to the team in 2014 due to a neck injury he suffered late during his rookie season.  Mike Vandermause from the Green Bay Press-Gazette shared the news after today’s mini camp practice.

Franklin was drafted in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL draft and had a very productive day in a game against the Cincinnati Bengals, rushing for over 100 yards and a score.  He had just six carries the rest of the season after some issues with ball security.

The Packers drafted both Franklin and Eddie Lacy last season to boost the running back position.  Franklin sat behind Lacy, who was the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year, and veteran James Starks.  Franklin was expected to be in the mix this season and had even taken some reps as a kick returner, which he also did during the 2013 season.

Franklin’s departure leaves the team with Lacy, Starks, DuJuan Harris, John Kuhn, Michael Hill, Rajion Neal and LaDarius Perkins at the running back position.

Franklin tweeted out a thanks to his supporters from his Twitter account today.

This is just another in what is becoming a long string of neck injuries in Green Bay.  In 1994, wide receiver Sterling Sharpe was forced to retire after his injury.  The Packers have also lost receiver Terrence Murphy and safety Nick Collins to neck injuries over the past decade.

Both Jermichael Finley and Johnny Jolly are currently recovering from neck injuries suffered last season while with the Packers.  Both are still free agents.

To get into a discussion about the rash of neck injuries that have hit the Packers over the past three years is another topic by itself but it’s noteworthy that the team has dealt with more than their fair share during that time.

No official roster move has been made yet and no speculation on who will take Franklin’s spot yet.

Here is Vandermause’s tweet announcing the news on Franklin:

 

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7

April

Xs and Os: Packers Running Game from Substitution Packages

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Packers running back Johnathan Franklin had a career day against the Cincinnati Bengals while running out of substitution packages.

The key to the Green Bay Packers’ offensive success is having the ability to run or pass out of any personnel grouping and formation, especially with multiple wide receivers on the field.

This means, in order to achieve offensive balance, the Packers must be able to run out of passing formations with substitution packages.

A substitution package is when the offense deploys different personnel than their base 21 group (2 running backs, 1 tight end, and 2 wide receivers. The Packers like running the 11 (1 running back, 1 tight end, and 3 wide receivers) and the 10 personnel groupings (1 running back, 0 tight ends, 4 wide receivers) on any down and distance.

Obviously, not having an extra running back (the fullback) or tight end (or H-back) on the field could pose a schematic disadvantage in the running game by having fewer bigger bodies on the field.

However, with the use of well-designed blocking packages and willing blocks by the wide receivers, the Packers had good success with running the ball from substitution groups.

Under the tutelage of wide receivers coach Edgar Bennett, who was a former running back, the Packers receiving corps has developed into a solid group of blockers who contribute immensely to the running game. This is one of the most underrated aspects of the Packers’ offensive success.

Let’s take a look at some of the staples of this deployment.

Disclaimer 1: You know the drill by now. #YKTDBN. I have never seen Mike McCarthy’s playbook. #IHNSMMP.

Disclaimer 2: #YKTDBN. This is an oversimplification for illustrative purposes. #TIAOFIP. Different formations and defensive fronts will change the blocking rules.

11 Outside Toss Strong: This play is frequently run from shotgun 11 personnel with an offset running back to the strong side of the formation. The key to the play is to get the ball outside and away from the defensive end and Sam linebacker.

Slide1

The outside wide receiver blocks down on the slot cornerback ($) and the slot receiver kicks out and sets the leverage on the strong side cornerback. Notice that the slot is further off the line of scrimmage to allow the outside receiver more time to block down.

22

February

Johnathan Franklin Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

Packers RB Johnathan Franklin

Packers RB Johnathan Franklin

1) Introduction:  Coming into the season, Franklin was expected to handle some return duties and play second fiddle to starter Eddie Lacy. But after an unspectacular training camp, Franklin was buried on the depth chart behind Lacy, James Starks and an injured DuJuan Harris. Franklin’s opportunity would come, but overall, it was a quiet rookie season.

2) Profile:

Johnathan A. Franklin

  • Age: 24
  • Born: 10/23/1989 in Los Angeles, CA
  • Height: 5’10″
  • Weight: 205
  • College: UCLA
  • Rookie Year: 2013
  • NFL Experience: 1 year

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Although he was a fourth-round pick, Franklin was expected by some (including himself) to be selected in the second or third round. So from that standpoint, much of Packer Nation was excited about the eccentric rookie runner. However, training camp proved to be a quick drizzle on Franklin’s rookie parade.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: The highlight and low-light of Franklin’s season was Sep. 22 in Cincinnati. Filling in for an injured Lacy and a hobbled Starks — who left the game earlier — Franklin burst onto the scene with 126 total yards and his first career touchdown. “That’s the Franklin we thought we were getting,” Packers fans said. Then, on a crucial fourth down in crunch time, Franklin fumbled, which was recovered by the Bengals and returned for a touchdown. It was the best of times, then it was the worst of times.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success:  Realistically, Franklin had very little impact on the Packers’ season. He was on multiple special teams units and had the big day against the Bengals, but that’s it.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs:  Franklin finished the 2013-14 season on injured reserve and was inactive for the Packers’ wild card playoff game against the 49ers.

Season Report Card:

(C-) Level of expectations met during the season

(D-) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(N/A) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade: D+

Note: It was a rough year for Franklin, but I still think he has something. After all, I had him ranked ahead of Lacy (as the No. 2 back behind Gio Bernard) prior to last year’s draft. And yes, I was dead wrong on that.

31

October

The 2013 Class is Packers’ Best Draft Yet Under Thompson

Packers RB Eddie Lacy leads a ridiculously strong 2013 rookie class for the Green Bay Packers

Ted Thompson has made a lot of brilliant draft picks since taking over as Green Bay Packers general manager in 2005.

He drafted some guy named Aaron Rodgers in the first round in 2005, Greg Jennings (current issues aside) in the second round in 2006,  Jordy Nelson in the second round in 2008 and both Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji in the first round in 2009. Don’t forget Randall Cobb in the second round of 2011 either.

The middle rounds have seen success too. James Jones was a third rounder in 2007 and Josh Sitton was selected in the fourth round in 2008.  Sitton’s partner-in-crime, T.J. Lang, was a fourth rounder as well in 2009.

This is just a partial list of great picks Thompson has made during his tenure with the Packers.  He’s hit more than he’s missed and has Green Bay poised to be in Super Bowl contention for the next several years.    We could go on and on about how deft Thompson has been at drafting over the years and that doesn’t even include undrafted free agents.

That being said, no draft class of Thompson’s has made quite the impact, especially right out of the gate, as the 2013 class of rookies.  Some of it may not have been planned on due to yet another injury epidemic on the Packers’ roster, but this group of youngsters has come to play and very well could down as Thompson’s finest draft class to date.

To review, here is the 2013 Green Bay Packers draft class:

1. Datone Jones, DE, UCLA

2. Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama

4a. David Bakhtiari, T, Colorado

4b. J.C. Tretter, T, Cornell

4c. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA

5a. Micah Hyde, CB, Iowa

5b. Josh Boyd, DE, Mississippi State

6. Nate Palmer, LB, Illinois State

7a. Charles Johnson, WR, Grand Valley State

7b. Kevin Dorsey, WR, Maryland

7c. Sam Barrington, LB, South Florida

Go down that list and you will see many reasons why the Packers are still in control of the NFC North despite Lambeau Field once again doubling as an infirmary.

26

October

Eddie Lacy starts fast, stays cool

Eddie Lacy has been a shot of life to the Packers' ground game, but he's not much of a smack talker. He's just a guy who likes football. And cartoons.

Eddie Lacy has been a shot of life to the Packers’ ground game, but he’s not much of a smack talker. He’s just a guy who likes football. And cartoons.

Following Jermichael Finley’s neck injury suffered against the Cleveland Browns, the “Jermichael Finley and M.D. Jennings Show” on WDUZ-Green Bay needed a substitute for its bi-weekly host (Finley), who was released from the hospital Oct. 24.

In stepped left guard Josh Sitton–the host of last year’s show–which airs Wednesdays from Thornberry Creek at Oneida, and running back Eddie Lacy, Sitton’s guest.

The first segment of the show features “Rookie”–the show’s mediator/host/caller-of-shots–and the host. So my job as the intern/audio-board-guy allowed me to sit down and talk with Lacy for a good ten minutes.

And for me, as a college kid/intern/audio-board-guy it was really cool.

If you didn’t know he was the most valuable player of last year’s BCS National Championship and–in his first season–perhaps the biggest reason for the Green Bay Packers’ sixth-ranked running game, you’d think he was just a regular 20-something guy. Like me, but cooler.

I had a few things written down that I wanted to ask about: a) his love for cartoons, which was brought to my attention by Ty Dunne’s awesome piece about Lacy from this past summer, b) what it’s like to play in Wisconsin after playing in Louisiana through high school and Alabama in college, and of course c) the Alabama Crimson Tide, Lacy’s alma mater, which is currently ranked No. 1 in the country.

“I’ve won a lot,” Lacy laughed in reference to his not-too-shabby career to date. “Not bad.”

He’s averaging 100 yards per game in his last three starts and leads the 2013 draft class in rushing yards through seven weeks, but Lacy is just a guy off the field. Football isn’t even his favorite sport to watch.

We talked about Alabama’s dominance, for which he was a part of three National Championship teams in four seasons, but he said the only sport he “really watch(es) is basketball.” (He’s a Dallas Mavericks fan.)

“Yeah, I like Dirk man,” said Lacy, whose excitement for his favorite player (Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki) was displayed by a smile that forced his eyes shut. “It’s not even about athleticism, at all.”

10

October

Four games in, Packers have No. 5 ground game in NFL

Rookies David Bakhtiari and Eddie Lacy have helped recharge the Packers' ground game.

Rookies David Bakhtiari and Eddie Lacy have helped recharge the Packers’ ground game.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, but in the case of the Packers’ new-look backfield, the early results show significant improvement running the football.

One quarter into the 2013 season, and the pass-happy Green Bay Packers have the league’s fifth-best ground game. The Packers are currently grinding out 141 rushing yards per game and 5.3 yards per attempt; Green Bay trails only Philadelphia, Seattle, Buffalo and Indianapolis running the football.

Eddie Lacy, the team’s second-round pick and clear-cut No. 1 back, was just one yard shy of becoming the team’s third-consecutive 100-yard rusher Sunday against the Detroit Loins.

Lacy was knocked out of the Washington game after suffering a concussion, paving the way for James Starks to rush for 132 yards on 20 carries. The following week against the Bengals–with Lacy still out and Starks being forced out of the game early–fellow rookie Johnathan Franklin racked up 103 yards on just 13 carries.

Improving the running game was high on the team’s to-do list this past offseason, according to coach Mike McCarthy.

“We’ll be better,” McCarthy said of his team’s running game following the 2012 season. I promise you that. Big letters.”

And better, they are. Last season, the Packers’ rushing attack ranked 20th in the league after coming in at No. 27 in 2011 and No. 24 in 2010. The last time the Packers ranked in the top half of the league was 2009, when they came in at No. 14 after averaging 117.8 yards per game.

Starks missed the Lions game and is expected to miss “a couple weeks,” according to McCarthy. Franklin stepped in as the No. 2 back behind Lacy against Detroit, but the rookie didn’t get another backfield snap after a second-quarter fumble. Instead, McCarthy opted to use receiver Randall Cobb in the backfield for a third-quarter possession.

Cobb took his first carry and bounced it to the outside for a 67-yard gain down the left sideline. He added another five-yard carry on that hurry-up drive to give himself a modest 36-yard-per-carry average on the afternoon.

Two fumbles in as many games certainly won’t help Franklin’s case to get a share of the workload. Perhaps undrafted rookie Michael Hill will get himself some spot duty depending on the team’s health at the possession. Hill was called up from the practice squad prior to the Lions game.

10

September

Eddie Lacy, Datone Jones & Johnathan Franklin Signing

The 2013 Packers Draft could eventually work out to be one of the best of Ted Thompson’s tenure. The Packers have some some potential stars in the making and we have a special offer for you.

For those of you who like to collect Packers’ memorabilia, I know there’s one thing you don’t have yet, a Packers helmet or football signed by one of the big three of this year’s draft. But no worries, we’re here to help.

In about another week, Eddie Lacy, Datone Jones & Johnathan Franklin will be doing a limited signing, their first official signing as Packers players. I’m not a memorabilia expert, but I understand this is an opportunity to get in “on the ground floor,” before the value of these items go up.

ALLGBP.com is bringing you the opportunity to order these items and ALSO receive a 10% discount.  It’s a limited time offer, which expires on Sep 12th.

To browse and/or order any of these items, just go to the Mayfield Sports Memorabilia online store. You get your 10% discount, just use the offer code ALLGBP at checkout.  It’s as simple as that! All items come with a Certificate of Authenticty (COA) and will be shipped on September 18th.

 

Packers Merchandise and Memorabilia - Eddie Lacy, Datone Jones, Johnathan Franklin, DuJuan Harris Autographs

Packers Merchandise and Memorabilia – Eddie Lacy, Datone Jones, Johnathan Franklin, DuJuan Harris Autographs

 

(Click on the image to go to the store website.)

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Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He is a PFWA member who can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.

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