15

July

If Packers fans had to pick a Packers Pepper to Perform

Julius Peppers

Julius Peppers

Tyler Dunne and Justin Felder asked an interesting question on the last Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Packers podcast: If Packers fans had to choose, would they pick pass rusher Julius Peppers or trainer Pepper Burruss to have a great season in 2014?

The duo never really answered the question, so let’s answer it here. First, some context:

If Julius Peppers has a great season, it probably means he had 10-plus sacks and finally provided the Packers defense with a legitimate edge pass-rushing threat to complement, and enhance, everything Clay Matthews already does.

The Packers have tried first-round draft picks, undrafted rookie free agents, random dudes off the street and converted defensive tackles at the outside linebacker slot opposite Matthews. Nothing has worked out.

The situation was so desperate, general manager Ted Thompson took the rare step of signing Peppers, a free agent, to try and get Matthews some help.

Peppers’ snaps will probably be limited, but if he reaches double digits in sacks and forces teams to divert attention from Matthews over to him, it will provide a tremendous boost to the Packers beleaguered defense.

If Pepper Burruss has a great season, it means the Packers injury luck has finally turned around. I know one trainer isn’t responsible for the health of the team, but work with me on this one.

Since 2010, every single position group on the Packers has been hit by a major injury to an important player.

Two players — a pro-bowl safety and a running back picked in the fourth round — have suffered career-ending neck injuries. One of the best tight ends in team history likely won’t play again after a neck injury. Ditto for Johnny Jolly, one of the best comeback stories from last season.

Pepper Burruss

Pepper Burruss

Mike McCarthy says he’s had two healthy teams in his eight years in Green Bay: 2007 and 2011. In 2007, the Packers went to the NFC title game. In 2011, they went 15-1.

Whether you think McCarthy’s exaggerating or not doesn’t matter. It’s a fact that the Packers have been one of the most beat up teams in the NFL since 2010.

So let’s say Burruss comes up with a magical solution to the Packers injury woes and devises a way for the Packers to not be injury free, but at least finish in the top 5 for fewest games lost due to injury in 2014.

---- Get AddToAny
23

February

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived (Bonus Edition)

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

So yesterday I accidentally scheduled my Surviving Sunday post to run on Saturday. It was a brain freeze similar to what happens when Mike McCarthy calls for the fullback dive on 3rd-and-short.

Hopefully you enjoyed your Saturday edition of Surviving Sunday. Now that it actually is Sunday, here is a bonus Sunday edition of Surviving Sunday.

Packers news, notes and links

  • Reports surfaced on Saturday that Packers free agent cornerback Sam Shields is seeking a deal similar to the 4 years, $22.4 million contract signed by the Bears’ Tim Jennings. If that’s truly the case, then the Packers need to get this deal done ASAP. I’m guessing the overall guarantee on Shields’ deal would be bigger than Jennings’, but even if that’s true, that’s a perfectly fair deal for both sides and still leaves the Packers salary cap room to make other moves this offseason.
  • Might new Giants offensive coordinator and former Packers QB coach Ben McAdoo try to sign James Starks and Evan Dietrich-Smith away from the Packers? It’d be nice to keep Starks around, but with Eddie Lacy on the roster and DuJuan Harris and Jonthan Franklin returning from injury, Starks is more of a luxury than a necessity. Then again, Starks ran at turbo speed last season. Given his injury history, a part-time role is probably best for him and he sure excelled filling in for Lacy. I don’t like playing musical chairs at center, but is Dietrich-Smith worthy overpaying if another team dumps a big offer on him? I don’t think so. I’m willing to see what J.C. Tretter can do at the position.
  • According to a study from Rick Gosselin at the Dallas Morning News, the Packers have lost a league-high 153 games by injuries to preferred starters over the last two seasons. So what are Mike McCarthy and the Packers going to do about it? Who knows. In this interview with Jason Wilde, McCarthy vowed to figure out what’s going on and make changes. He said the same things last offseason. The most logical change at this point might be to just hire the training and medical staff from Stanford University.
  • If you’re still holding out hope that the Packers will sign Jarius Byrd to fix their issues at safety, this Tweet might squash that hope.

Non-Packers links and other nonsense

14

January

The Packers are still among the NFL’s Elite (if they can stop being so fragile)

It’s tough to be an elite team when the franchise quarterback breaks his collar bone.

I’ve heard all about how the Packers aren’t on the same level as the Seahawks or 49ers.

I’ve read the pleas for Ted Thompson to start signing veteran free agents to plug roster holes.

I’ve seen the calls for Dom Capers to be fired.

I’ve noted the cries for more playmakers on both sides of the ball.

I’ve gotten frustrated at the Packers poor special teams play.

I’ve been exasperated by the play of Morgan Burnett and Brad Jones after they signed contract extensions.

I’ve been just as frustrated (warning: NSFW. And it’s not me in the video. I swear.) as all of you have been after another early playoff exit.

I agree that the Packers haven’t been as good as San Francisco or Seattle over the last two seasons.

I agree that Ted Thompson should not completely ignore veteran free agency when building his roster.

I wouldn’t mind seeing Capers gone.

I’d like more playmakers on the field, just like every other team’s fanbase would.

I hate getting irrationally angry after the Packers allow a long kickoff return.

I wish Burnett and Jones (and Raji, as long as we’re at it) would quit stealing money from the Packers.

These are legit problems that the Packers faced this season and should address in the future. But isn’t the Packers main problem injuries?

If the Packers don’t play significant parts of the season without Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Casey Hayward, Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley and Bryan Bulaga, wouldn’t a lot of these other issues be covered up?

If Eddie Lacy, Sam Shields, James Jones, Nick Perry, Evan Dietrich-Smith and Robert Francois don’t miss all or parts of multiple games, would the Packers be on the same level as San Francisco and Seattle?

I think they would be. And that’s not making excuses or being blind to the fact that a few things around 1265 Lombardi Ave. could be done differently. It’s hard to be elite when you play without your best offensive player, best defensive player, your starting left tackle, your top tight end, one of your best wide receivers and a really good special teams player for most of the season.

11

November

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Eagles 27, Packers 13

With Aaron Rodgers injured, the Packers are relying on Scott Tolzien at quarterback.

With Aaron Rodgers injured, the Packers are relying on Scott Tolzien at quarterback.

Scott Tolzien played the majority of the game for the Green Bay Packers at quarterback.

Scott. Tolzien.

To his credit, he was a solid quarterback for the Wisconsin Badgers, but he was, in essence, a puppet carrying out Paul Chryst’s game plan, which relied heavily on a dominant power run game. But in his two years as the Badgers’ starter, never did I think Tolzien would be playing in the NFL, much less for a playoff contender like the Packers.

But against the Philadelphia Eagles, Tolzien filled in for an injured Seneca Wallace and played pretty well. Despite being intercepted in the red zone, which took points off the board, Tolzien moved the ball much better than Wallace did last week against the Chicago Bears after Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone.

For a fan base that’s used to watching Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre under center, the past couple games have been a wakeup call. Last week, Rodgers played one series before getting injured, and this week, the Packers again lost their starting quarterback (Wallace) after the first series.

Since 1992, the Packers have had three quarterbacks start a football game: Favre, Rodgers and Matt Flynn. Next week, with Tolzien slated to get the start, will mark the Packers’ third starting quarterback in three weeks. Crazy.

By no means was the Packers’ loss on Sunday due to Tolzien’s struggles. The blame falls on the defense.

Game Balls

Datone Jones

As bad as the defense was, Jones had (by far) the best game of his young NFL career against the Eagles. Jones was responsible for two sacks on Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, which isn’t bad for a guy who was only on the field for 19 plays. After a debacle like Sunday’s, it’s easy to look past the few positives, but the rookie had a big day.

Jarrett Boykin

With a pair of backup quarterbacks throwing him the football, Boykin tied a career high with eight catches and set a new career best with 112 receiving yards. Quietly, Boykin is having a really nice season as his opportunities have increased. Despite subpar speed, Boykin always seems to be where he’s supposed to be, and he catches the ball when it’s thrown to him. That’s a really good thing for a wide receiver.

22

October

Packers vs. Bears will be a battle of the bruised and battered

Packers LB Clay Matthews will be one of many players in street clothes when the Packers play the Bears on Monday Night Football in a few weeks.

I know the Packers play the Vikings this week and we shouldn’t be looking ahead to the Nov. 4 Monday Night Football game against the Bears, but I can’t help myself. The number of talented players that might be watching that game from the sideline or on TV because of injuries is staggering.

Suddenly, the Black and Blue division has turned into the Broken Bones and Torn Ligaments division.

Likely/definitely out for the Packers (and their 2012 stats):

  • LB Clay Matthews (43 tackles, 13 sacks)
  • WR Randall Cobb (80 catches, 954 yards, 8 TDs)
  • TE Jermichael Finley (61 catches, 667 yards, 2 TDs)

Possibly out for the Packers:

  • LB Brad Jones (77 tackles, 2 sacks)
  • CB Casey Hayward (48 tackles, 6 interceptions)
  • WR James Jones (64 catches, 784 yards, 14 TDs)

Likely/definitely out for the Bears:

  • QB Jay Cutler (3,033 yards, 19 TDs)
  • LB Lance Briggs (102 tackles, 2 interceptions)
  • DT Henry Melton (43 tackles, 6 sacks)

Possibly out for the Bears:

  • CB Charles Tillman (85 tackles, 10 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions)

Let’s assume all of those players don’t play. Now let’s add up their 2012 numbers and combine them with each player’s 2013 statistics. This is what would be sitting on the sidelines during a marquee Monday Night divisional game.

  • 4,691 passing yards
  • 67 TDs (31 passing, 31 receiving, 5 defensive)
  • 279 catches for 3,432 yards (12.3 ypc)
  • 498 tackles
  • 28.5 sacks
  • 25 forced fumbles
  • 5 interceptions

And the NFL wants to add more regular season games, expand the playoffs, and possibly play a doubleheader on Thursday night.

Makes total sense to me.

——————

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.

——————

14

October

Packers News: Injury updates on Perry, Jones and Cobb

Packers receiver Randall Cobb will miss "multiple weeks," according to head coach Mike McCarthy. He offered no further details.

Packers receiver Randall Cobb will miss “multiple weeks,” according to head coach Mike McCarthy. He offered no further details.

The Packers left Baltimore with a 19-17 win over the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens, but they lost several core players to injury.

Coming into the game, the team was already shorthanded, as they were without outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who suffered a broken hand last week against the Detroit Lions.

Perry, filling in for the injured Matthews, reportedly suffered a broken foot on his sack of Joe Flacco at the end of the first half. Perry missed the final ten regular season games last season, but prior to his injury, the former first-round pick was coming into his own, as his sack of Flacco was his third in the past two games.

Head coach Mike McCarthy said at Monday’s press conference that Perry would not have a chance to play this week. He wouldn’t go into detail about any of the team’s new injuries.

The injury was first reported by WDUZ’s Chris Havel, via WDUZ’s official Twitter page.

James Jones exited Sunday’s game with a knee injury, but Adam Schefter reported Monday that the injury was merely a sprained PCL. Immediately after leaving the game, Jones returned to the sideline for the second half sporting a full leg brace.

McCarthy confirmed that Jones’ injury was the least severe of the three, saying the wide receiver did, in fact, have a chance to play this week against the Cleveland Browns.

Randall Cobb’s injury, however, sounds like it’s a bit more serious than that of Jones. After being hit low by Ravens safety Matt Elam, Cobb remained on the ground for an extended period of time before being carted into the locker room. McCarthy said Cobb would miss “multiple weeks” with his knee injury but, again, did not go into specifics.

24

September

Packers Need a Signature Win to Get Back Over the Mountain

The Packers beating the Jets was a signature win in 2010.

It seems like forever ago when everyone pegged the Packers as the NFL’s next dynasty.

It was only natural for people – including many in the Packers organization – to talk about a dynasty after winning Super Bowl XLV. A young team with a budding superstar at quarterback had just won it all with a ton of players on injured reserve. Talk of a dynasty was justified.

All that dynasty talk disappeared after the Packers went 15-1 in 2011, only to suffer an embarrassing loss to the Giants in their first playoff game.

Potential to production
Let’s rewind even further, back before the word dynasty was even in the vocabulary of Packers fans. In 2009, the Packers went on a nice run in the second half of the season to make the playoffs before losing a wild-card shootout with the Cardinals.

The 2010 season was supposed to be when the Packers took the next step. All that young talent was primed and ready to go from promising to great. Potential was to be replaced with production. Rebuilding with results. Playoff failure with playoff victory.

After six games, none of that happened. Midway through the 2010 season, Green Bay was 3-3, beat up, and spinning its wheels — stuck near the top of the mountain, unable to vault over it.

Then the Packers rattled off four straight wins, overcame a rough patch down the stretch, made the playoffs, and won the whole damn thing. The Packers not only made it over the mountain, they occupied the mountain, planted a green and gold flag on it, and claimed the mountain as their own.

They even chiseled the faces of Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy into the side of the mountain to create their own Packers Mt. Rushmore.

Falling off the mountain
Throughout the entire 2011 season, whenever another team tried to climb Packers Mountain, the Packers kicked them back down.

Then the Giants rolled into Lambeau Field for a divisional round playoff game, kicked the Packers off their own mountain, and sprayed graffiti all over the faces on Packers Mt. Rushmore.

Oh well. It was disappointing, but it happens. Mountains are high and often have difficult terrain. Every now and then, you’re going to slip and fall off.