By Guest Author, Pigskin Paul
Our friend Pigskin Paul comments on some Green Bay Packers players in the news and looks at some 2009 stats.
Given TED THOMPSON’s penchant for building his team through the DRAFT, and retention of his own young players who have shown progress in their development as Pros, this time of year is generally pretty quiet in PACKERS Country.
But primarily thanks to some unsettling off-field activity, things have been a little more active within the PACKERS organization this June. Let’s take a look at some situations drawing attention right now.
Unfortunately, BRANDON UNDERWOOD has put himself in some minor legal trouble, and perhaps a bit more trouble within the team’s infrastructure, by letting the little head think for the big head. All this while spending time in the Wisconsin Dells area, ostensibly to help in a golf-outing, fund raising event.
Let’s just say it s never a good thing when a family man, with two children decides to pay for sex with some local ladies, in his spare time. There was some baggage that came along to Green Bay when he was Drafted last year. But the feeling was that he his main issues dated back to his late team years and he had matured, and learned from his youthful indiscretions.
For now it looks like he has escaped legal prosecution, but he may face some serious scrutiny within the team organization. The team may be a quandary in dealing with the situation, since he seems to have made solid progress on the field, at a position where the team cannot afford to discard talented players.
Right now, I would project some kind of ‘minor’ discipline for UNDERWOOD from the team, with perhaps a more aggressive disciplinary approach from the League.
He’s the leader of the Defense. He’s the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in the NFL. He’s a solid locker room presence in Green Bay. So how do the PACKERS respond to noises from CHARLES WOODSON that he wants a new contract?
And how does the team respond to such a situation when the player happens to be 33-years old, and plays the CB position, which traditionally is considered to be no country for old men.
This is the kind of position that professional sports franchises dread getting into. Nothing can cripple your team long term more severely than tying up a satchel of money in player contracts for guys who have most likely hit the peak of their performance upside.
On the other hand, turning your back on a team leader who is playing at a high level, can do irreparable damage to your team on the field and in the Locker Room. Good luck on this one THOMPSON/MURPHY/McCARTHY.
If you have been watching the weekly shuffling of the JOHNNY JOLLY trial date deep in the heart of Texas, I would suggest you begin thinking of the 2010 PACKERS season moving forward without his presence on the team.
I am hearing that the rash of postponements has more to do with his attorneys continuing to try to cut a deal with prosecutors than anything else. It is looking more and more like there is no way Jolly skates away from this situation with just a slap on the wrist.
The situation cries out for rookies MIKE NEAL & C.J. WILSON to step up and contribute significantly at DE this season. Otherwise, I think it will be a step backards in many ways if JOLLY’s absence forces RYAN PICKETT and/or B.J. RAJI to take a lot of snaps at the DE position.
Switching gears, a bit…
The pursuit of statistics/numbers is way down the list of priorities for DONALD DRIVER in his professional career. But I think it should be noted that he is now closing in on very lofty numbers beyond just team receiving records.
With 53 receptions this year, DRIVER would hit the lofty figure of 700 career catches. With 9,500 receiving yards he would also crack the 10,000-receiving yards mark.
Here’s hoping that one of the team’s hardest working, best attitude players puts up big numbers this season, and inches himself towards consideration for Hal; of Fame induction when he retires, a few years down the road.
And while we’re touching on stats for a moment, did you realize that AARON RODGERS just missed out on being the top rushing QB in the NFL last season, trailing DAVID GARRARD/Jacksonville by only 7 yards, 316/323?
However, Rodgers averaged 5.4-ypc, compared to GARRARD’s 4.2-ypc. He also scored 5 rushing TD, compared to GARRAD’s 3 TD.
Even though MIKE McCARTHY has been quick to point out A-RODGE’s value because of his ability to tuck the ball and run when needed, you can bet he’d be OK if RODGERS ran a little less in 2010… I think.
Touching on RODGERS’ 2009 stats for just a paragraph longer, I think it also worth pointing out that he was one of only 5 NFL starting QBs to rack up a passing rating of at least 100.0. His 103.2 rating was 4th best in the League. Not to be a name-dropper, but he finished behind a guy named FAVRE (107.2), but ahead of MR. PEYTON (99.9).
Another stat that stood out to me in pouring over some 2009 numbers was the fact that the PACKERS end-of-season starting secondary amassed a total of 23 interceptions, which was by far the most for a starting unit in the League. Individually, I will remind you of the ball hawks who patrolled the field for the Green-and-Gold: WOODSON- 9; COLLINS-6; TRAMON WILLIAMS-4; ATARI BIGBY-4. The Packers’ 30 team interceptions led the NFL, as well.
Surprisingly, perhaps, the 6-10 BILLS were a close second with 28 Picks. As a quick aside, maybe that INT mark in Buffalo may help you understand why the new Head Coach, CHAN GAILEY, specializes in Offense. It might also help explain why the GIANTS were so quick to snap former BILLS DC/PERRY FEWELL so quickly.
Well, that’s gonna have to satiate your PACKERS appetite for now, friends. I’ll be back at you from Florida next week.
Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.