Well there goes the season. OK, only kidding. The Cleveland Browns defeated the Packers 27-24 Saturday night in Lambeau Field as the two teams kicked off their 2010 preseason. It was a laid back night for the most part, with starters playing the first quarter before reserves took over,and depsite the loss there was still plenty to be happy about on the Packers’ side of the ball.
First and foremost, Aaron Rodgers seems to already be in mid-season form. The third-year starter completed his first nine passes and finished the night 12-13 for 159 yards, including a 25-yard strike to Greg Jennings for a touchdown. Rodgers looked poised in the pocket as always and had solid protection (which we’ll get to later) and found six different receivers on the night.
The Packers released their first depth chart of the 2010 season Monday, and while nothing is official and most of the list means little, there is something to be said about some of the starters/backups. It’s important to remember the Packers still have not played an actual game yet (the one thing that matters the most) and that inevitable injuries are sure to change who plays where, but there’s some truth and concrete evidence behind the depth chart. One area, the offensive line, was a topic of discussion.
One of the biggest storylines, if not the biggest, for the Packers entering training camp was regarding the offensive line. With solid depth and versatility, there were plenty of options for the Packers to pick and choose from. It’s an area the Packers must improve on next season if they want to be true contenders, so mixing and finding the right matches will be vital before the season starts. Here are the first impressions from the initial depth chart on the offensive line.
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Johnny Jolly.
That’s about all Packers fans have to say regarding the defensive end after NFL Commisioner Roger Goodell suspended Jolly for the entire 2010 season Saturday. Jolly reportedly violated his substance abuse policy and prosectuors in the state of Texas are also looking into potential drug dealing, indicating Jolly ”bought, sold, funded, transported and aided in the buying, selling, funding and transportation of illegal narcotics including cocaine and marijuana” from 2006 through May 2008.”
Jolly is also due in court at the end of July on charges that he possessed over 200 grams of codeine during a traffic stop in 2008. If convicted, Jolly could face up to 20 years in prison.
Yes football fans, it’s that time of the year again. The world’s most popular fantasy sport, although I’d beg to differ on what’s actually the best, is sending out their initial draft packages, mock drafts, and fantasy advice to get ready for the 2010 season. I have to admit I don’t spend much time on fantasy football because of my love for the Packers, so why not put a Packers’ spin on ESPN.com’s first fantasy football mock draft?
The Packers had six players and a defense represented in the draft (the Vikings had seven and a defense), and my fanhood believes there could have have been one or two more in there. Standard rules applied when making selections, so no individual defensive players (IDPs) and only 10 teams (most fantasy leagues will have 12 or even 14).
1. Aaron Rodgers, QB: Drafted in 2nd round, (12th overall)
ESPN.com’s NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert wrote a blog last Wednesday on broken tackles from this past season. He received his information from Football Outsiders, a website that tracks all kinds of stats, and revealed some pretty interesting numbers on NFC North tackling.
The first stat, percentage of tackles offensive players “broke,” slotted the Packers worst in the league at 3.3 tackles broken out of every 100 attempts. In comparison, the Vikings ranked second (7.6) while the Lions finished 29th (3.8) and the Bears 31st (3.5). The Carolina Panthers led the league with 8.4 percent.
Last Tuesday, Roger Goodell announced that New York would be the site for the 2014 Super Bowl, marking the first time the game will be played in a traditionally “cold weather” setting come February. There has been a widespread debate on whether or not this is a good idea for the game’s neutrality, how festivities during the week will be affected by potential snow, etc., but in the end the idea of a new stadium and New York City hosting the Super Bowl was too much to pass up.
But before any Packers fans get too excited about the thought of a Super Bowl coming to Green Bay and Lambeau Field, don’t expect it anytime soon.
The Green Bay Packers started their 2010 minicamps Tuesday and there are already headlines being made. It is important to remember that it is only May and things like depth charts mean little because not everyone participates in the OTA’s.
Still, trends can form early in the year and position changes do mean a lot. Here are the early headlines making news for the Packers early in the preseason:
Justin Harrell Returns for the Start of OTA’s
Make no mistake about it: I am extremely pleased with how the Packers’ 2010 draft went down. They came out of the three-day festivities with a future left tackle, depth on both lines, a potential starting safety, and even more potential threats on an already scary offense. But what’s the fun in agreeing?
By in large, the Packers’ front office knew 1000 times more about the players in the draft than I ever could by reading Mel Kiper’s NFL Draft Preview book or watching Youtube videos, but here’s what I would have done if I was calling the shots on Draft Day.
*Note* Each selection is based on what the Packers actually did leading up to that point. So in round two, I am saying who the Packers should have selected based on taking Bryan Bulaga, etc.
Round 1, pick 23
Who was the pick: Bryan Bulaga, LT, Iowa
Who should have been the pick: Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
The Packers had obvious needs entering the 2010 NFL Draft. Safety was not one of them. But that did not stop Ted Thompson from trading up for just the third time in his career to select safety Morgan Burnett, a junior out of Georgia Tech.
Burnett joins a group of players Thompson has traded up for that includes former Packers defensive end Jeremy Thompson and outside linebacker Clay Matthews. Thompson was an end who projected as a project at outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense, but a neck injury forced him to retire earlier last month. Matthews recorded 10 sacks in his rookie campaign last season and projects as the Packers rush linebacker of the future.
Next in line is Burnett, who the Packers moved up to to select in the third round and feel as though they received excellent value. He was projected by most to go in the second round but slipped on day two. With teams in front of the Packers needing help at safety, the Bears included, Green Bay jumped up and got their guy.
Round One: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
Bulaga’s stock was all over the board, but Ted Thompson stuck to his draft board and went with who he hopes will be the team’s future left tackle. They could have gone with the instant upgrade at outside linebacker or safety, but instead chose Bulaga. He has excellent size and can play three positions on the line. The Packers say he will have a chance to compete for the starting left tackle position this year.
Round Two: Michael Neal, DE, Purdue
The Packers selected left tackle Bryan Bulaga with the 23rd pick in the 2010 NFL Draft Thursday night. The Packers addressed arguably their team’s biggest need by going with who they believe will be the left tackle of the future. They were presented with more options than they expected when they went on the clock, but decided to go with a pick for the future rather than an immediate upgrade.
Scout’s Inc. had Bulaga rated as the 22nd rated player while Mel Kiper and Todd McShay had him being drafted by the 49ers in each of their mocks (McShay at 17, Kiper at 13). He comes in at 6-foot-5 and weighing 315 pounds with 33.3-inch arms and 9.3-inch hands. He ran a 5.20-forty yard dash, did 26 reps on the bench, and had a 27.5-inch vertical leap.
Week One, Sept. 12, at Philadelphia
Many expected Aaron Rodgers to meet up with Donovan McNabb for the first time, but instead it will be Kevin Kolb who the Packers’ defense try to stop. McNabb was traded in the off-season for a pair of second round picks as the Eagles passed the torch off to Kolb, 25.
The Packers have won their last three openers, including a 16-13 victory over the Eagles in 2007 at Lambeau Field. This one should be tougher as the Eagles have won six games at home each of the last two seasons.
Other than McNabb, the Eagles enter the 2010 season without last year’s starters Lito Sheppard and Chris Gocong on defense. It will be interesting to see what happens with the draft, but as of right how it’s hard to argue that the Eagles have gotten better this off-season.
Week Three, Sept. 27, at Chicago
1. Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama
It’s amazing how much sense Jackson makes for the Packers with this pick. At Alabama, Jackson was a lockdown cornerback who has experience in the 3-4 defense that Nick Saban ran. He has good size, can help out on special teams, and the Packers have shown a lot of interest in him. Ted Thompson was at the Crimson Tide’s pro day and everything checks out with this future starter in the NFL. The Packers will think long and hard about a left tackle but decide they want an immediate upgrade and do so at the cornerback position.
2. Vladmir Ducasse, LT, Massachusetts
When the Packers decided to bring back veteran left tackle Chad Clifton this offseason, it all but signaled that he would also be the team’s starter in 2010. While the Packers will need to address an eventual replacement for Clifton in the next few years, the Packers believe the 10-year veteran can still provide starting quality next season.
With that being said, finding a left tackle with more upside than immediate skill could easily be the way the Packers look in the first round of the NFL Draft. If they truly believe Clifton can compete at a high level, finding someone who can step in right away will not be as important. One player who fits that bill is Southern California’s Charles Brown.
With up to six left tackles that could potentially be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft, it seems as though the Packers would be destined to look that way when they go on the clock at pick 23 Thursday night.
However, the Packers are in win-now mode and a left tackle such as Charles Brown or Anthony Davis isn’t going to make much of an impact in 2010, if at all. Instead, the Packers may very well look to fill an immediate need on the defensive side of the ball.
One of those positions is cornerback, where there are four potential first round picks waiting to be drafted. While it’s all but assured that Florida’s Joe Haden will be off the board when the Packers go on the clock, Kareem Jackson, Devin McCourty, and Kyle Wilson could all be there. Here’s a look at three potential picks who could be wearing green and gold on draft day.
Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State