8

June

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

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers footba

If B.J. Raji and A.J. Hawk had a baby, he would fit in perfectly on the Packers defense.

(Pause)

Now that you’ve cleaned up the vomit and are fully recovered from the mental image of Hawk and Raji breeding, please continue reading:

All signs are pointing to Hawk starting at linebacker for the Green Bay Packers for the 9th consecutive season. Over the last eight years, Hawk has amassed 832 tackles, 18.5 sacks, nine interceptions and four forced fumbles.

If I were to ask you to name a memorable Hawk tackle or a key play where he forced a fumble or knocked down a pass, could you do it? I’m racking my brain right now and the only play I can come up with is when he sacked Sam Bradford in 2011 and flipped off the Packers bench.

That play was memorable, but not necessarily because of the impact it had on the game.

Raji had dollar signs in his eyes when he turned down a lucrative contract extension from the Packers midway through last season. Those dollar signs turned to tears after Raji’s play fell off a cliff, the extension offer was withdrawn, and Raji returned to Green Bay on a 1 year “prove-it” deal worth $4 million.

If I were to ask you to name a memorable play in Raji’s career, I guarantee everyone reading this will cite the pick-six against the Bears in the 2011 NFC title game and the ensuing Raji Dance. Raji also had 6.5 sacks in 2010 and occasionally gets featured in replays blowing up the center or pushing back a double team and wrecking a running play.

It’s safe to say both Hawk and Raji have failed to meet Packers’ fans expectations. Yes, Hawk is consistent, but with the No. 5 pick in the draft, Packers fans wanted a guy who scared the other team, not someone who’s just consistently ok. Raji has had moments of brilliance, but gets wiped off the line far too often and disappears for long stretches that lead to breakdowns in the Packers run defense.

Basically, if Hawk had some of Raji in him — an occasional flashy play that changed a game — and Raji had some of Hawk in him — more consistency — both players would be closer to meeting the expectations of Packers fans.

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22

February

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

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Note: Relax, no need to go check your calendar – it’s not Sunday. Just a little scheduling snafu. Look for a bonus edition tomorrow, though…  

I’m going straight to the Packers news and commentary this week. No time for a long intro rant or rave. There is snow to shovel. More and more snow to shovel. 

By the time this winter is over, my back is going to snap in half from shoveling and Dr. Pat McKenzie will refuse to clear me in time for training camp.

Packers news, notes and links

  • Tyler Dunne at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel talked to a bunch of folks about Sam Shields. Is Shields worth a mega-contract? You might not find a faster corner in the league. But Shields also has missed games every season with various injuries. And he has a little ways to go before truly being one of the league’s top corners instead of having the potential to be one of the league’s top corners. As with any free-agent decision, it all comes down to value. I’d like to see Shields re-signed, but if he walks, the Packers still have Tramon Williams, a returning Casey Hayward, Micah Hyde and Davon House at cornerback.
  • Mike Mccarthy sounded optimistic in an interview at the NFL Scouting Combine that Jermichael Finley would play again. Finley had the same two vertebrae fused that ended Nick Collins career. I’m rooting for Finley to make it back, but I still have doubts that, if he does return, it’ll be with the Packers. Either way, I’m curious what kind of offer he gets in free agency if he is cleared.
  • Ted Thompson also spoke at the combine. As usual, he said nothing.
  • I agree with John Rehor over at Packerstalk.com: Let’s calm down about Ted Thompson preparing to go all nutso in free agency. I don’t see it happening. I do think Thompson will sign a few guys. There has been value in some under-the-radar veterans in recent years that don’t completely blow up a team’s payroll. Thompson has missed the boat on some of these guys and won’t want to miss it again. At least I hope he won’t…
  • As always, when you’re at Packerstalk.com, check out the latest podcasts from this week.
11

August

Packers Jordy Nelson is Already Underpaid

Green Bay Packer Jordy Nelson against the Chicago Bears

The Jordy Nelson stiff-arm.

This post is putting the cart waaaaay ahead of the horse, but I think the topic merits discussion.

Jordy Nelson had an amazing season in 2011. I mean, really amazing.

So far, he’s showing no signs of slowing down in training camp. Most observers say he’s only getting better.

Before Nelson truly exploded last season, he signed a 4-year, $14 million contract extension with the Packers. He might have already outplayed that contract.

Here are three random WRs making more than Nelson: Stevie Johnson ($5 years, $36.25 million); Earl Bennett (5 years, $18.55 million) and Marques Colston (5 years, $40 million).

I would take Nelson over all of those guys, and it’s not even close. Nelson was the 27th highest paid receiver in the NFL after signing his new deal, and he’s surely dropped in the rankings since.

I like to make snarky comments on Twitter about Nelson’s agent soon being unemployed after Nelson realizes the bargain-basement extension he signed. But in all seriousness, it’s ultimately Nelson who made the call when he chose to re-sign with the Packers and for how much.

When Nelson re-signed, he wasn’t quite where he’s at now. I’m sure he took a look at the contract, thought that $14 million was plenty of cash, and decided to sign so he could move on with his life and keep working at becoming a better player.

Well, he’s become a better player. And he might be getting even better.

If that’s the case, the Packers better hope that Nelson doesn’t try and do something about being underpaid, even though he was the one who signed his name on the dotted line a couple of month before his value skyrocketed.

Ted Thompson has to come up with extensions for Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews in the near future. The last thing he wants to deal with is Nelson demanding a reworked deal.

I’m not saying that Nelson will be threatening a holdout any time soon. I’m also not trying to garner sympathy for a guy set to make $14 million. But this is probably an issue that Thompson at least has in the back of his mind.

21

November

Has Jordy Nelson Become the Packers No. 1 Receiver?

Jordy Nelson has become the Packers No. 1 receiver...at least for now.

When Ted Thompson signed Jordy Nelson to a 3 year, $13.35 million contract extension, the Packers GM probably thought he was locking up his second best receiver for the foreseeable future.

Or maybe not.

Perhaps Thompson knew Nelson was more than a No. 2 guy and felt he had to sign him before Nelson himself realized he was more than a No. 2, and set his price higher than what the Packers could afford.

Either way, the signing was a good one and Nelson has taken his game to a new level since the deal was announced. Actually, Nelson has played so well that he’s the Packers No. 1 receiver, at least for now.

Since signing the extension on Oct. 2, Nelson has 30 catches for 555 yards and seven TDs. He’s led the Packers in receiving yards three times and seems to be Rodgers’ favorite target when the QB breaks the pocket and needs to get rid of the ball.

Over that same stretch, Greg Jennings, generally considered to be the Packers No. 1 WR, has 35 catches for 498 yards and five TDs. Jennings hasn’t gone over 50 yards in his last three games and only managed two catches for six yards on Sunday.

For the season, Nelson has 40 catches for 759 yards (19 yards per catch) and nine TDs. Jennings has 53 catches for 761 yards (14.4 per catch) and seven TDs.

If you ask Rodgers who the Packers No. 1 receiver is, he will likely tell you he just throws to whoever is open. If we use the QB’s criteria, Nelson belongs in the discussion.

If we factor in big plays, the ability to get open when a play breaks down, and recent performance, Nelson is the clear No. 1.

Jennings might reclaim the top spot at some point this season. But either way, Thompson should pat himself on the back for locking up Nelson when he did.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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4

October

Week 5 Packers Stock Report: Nelson and Rodgers Rising, Hawk and NFL Security Falling

Jordy Nelson leaps into this weeks Packers stock report.

The Green Bay Packers are 4-0 and look like the best team in the NFL, but Packers fans shouldn’t make hotel reservations for Indianapolis just yet. There are still holes on this team, and the biggest might be the nonexistent pass rush.

I debated whether to include Clay Matthews in the falling category for this week’s stock report, but decided to hold off for now. I understand that teams are game-planning for Matthews, and that he’s doing a good job against the run and setting the edge, but the Packers need him to rush the passer. Period.

There are a lot of LBs in the NFL that are good against the run and setting the edge. There are only a few that are elite pass rushers. Matthews was an elite pass rusher in 2010, and the Packers need him to return to form in 2011.

I was at Lambeau on Sunday and Matthews too often appeared content engaging his blocker and trying to read which direction the QB might scramble. Matthews needs to blow up whomever tries blocking him and force the QB to scramble in one direction or the other.

Maybe he’s playing hurt, maybe he’s just playing within the system. Either way, he needs to start putting QBs on the ground. I’m betting that if Matthews gets going, so will the rest of the Packers defense.

Rising

Aaron Rodgers
It might be time to just give Rodgers his own category, something above rising. I hate wasting a rising slot on Rodgers because it’s obvious to anyone that has watched football for more than 5 minutes that Rodgers is really good, and getting better. When Rodgers connected with James Jones on a touchdown in the third quarter Sunday, my wife and I thought he was throwing it right to a Broncos defender. The Denver defensive back’s coverage was so good, that we couldn’t even see Jones from the angle of our seats, but Rodgers fit the throw in anyway. That about sums up how Rodgers is playing right now.

Charles Woodson
Another player that maybe deserves his own category. Where would this defense be without Woodson taking over the Carolina game and getting an early pick-six against the Broncos? Woodson’s nose for the ball, aggressiveness and football IQ have covered up the early struggles of this defense. If Dom Capers can get this defense back on track, Woodson should get more opportunities to blitz and wreak even more havoc.

Jordy Nelson
Ted Thompson showed just how saavy of an investor he is by locking up Nelson to a contract extension before his inclusion in this week’s stock report. If Thompson would have waited until after Nelson made the rising category, it would’ve cost the Packers at least another $7.52 (yes, that’s 7 dollars and 52 cents. This stock report is a big deal. A very big deal). For now, Nelson is the Packers second best receiver, behind Greg Jennings and ahead of Jermichael Finley.