Strotty's Blog

All your Wisconsin sports news and more!

Packers bring back Harrell, Gurley, West, five others to practice squad

After finalizing the initial 53-man roster yesterday evening, the Green Bay Packers signed eight players to their practice squad Sunday morning. RB Brandon Saine, T/G Ray Dominguez, WR Diondre Borel, C Sampson Genus, QB Graham Harrell, WR Tori Gurley, CB Brandian Ross and WR Chastin West, all of whom were with the Packers in training camp, were all brought back to the practice squad. Also of note, Ted Thompson did not make a waiver claim on any players, so the initial 53-man roster stays intact.

Running Back Brandon Saine: The Packers decided to go with three running backs and John Kuhn in the backfield, which made Saine’s services disposable. The Packers, however, are surely glad to bring him back as he showed solid, North-South running ability in the preseason.

Tackle/Guard Ray Dominguez: Thompson loves his versatile offensive linemen, and Dominguez is no exception. The massive, 6-foot, 4-inch Dominguez will provide depth for a thin Packers’ offensive line and, at just 23 years old, still has room to grow. The Packers could still sign an unrestricted free agent lineman as depth before Week 1.

Wide Receiver Diondre Borel:

****To see the rest of this article, click here to read it on Examiner.com, completely free!****

 

September 4, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Packers jump to top spot in ESPN’s franchise rankings

A year ago, the Green Bay Packers were ranked by ESPN as the ninth best franchise in professional sports.

One year and a Super Bowl championship later, the franchise heads the list.

ESPN the Magazine released its ninth annual Ultimate Standings, which “measure[s] how much MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL franchises give back to the fans in exchange for all the time, money and emotion the fans invest in them.”

With that criteria in hand, it came as no surprise that the Packers took the top spot. The rankings are based on eight different major categories, each weighted differently, and averaged out into one number. Here they are and analysis of how the Packers fared in each.

1. Bang for the Buck (24.3%) — Packers ranked 4th: The biggest category, which measures “wins during the past three years per revenues directly from fans, adjusted for league schedules,” was big for the Packers. Since a 6-10 2008 season, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have given fans a 25-12 record and, oh yeah, that Super Bowl championship in 2010.

2. Players (16.6%) — Packers ranked 5th: When Ted Thompson took over as general manager, he said he would only bring in players labeled as “Packer people.” Such has been the case, as players like Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji have all stayed out of trouble while working hard on the field. Outside of Johnny Jolly, whose tenure in Green Bay is all but over, the Packers have had a squeaky clean track record, and their performance on the field speaks for itself.

3. Fan Relations (16.5%) — Packers ranked 10th:

****To see the rest of this article, click here to read it on Examiner.com, completely free!****

June 17, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

2011 NFL Draft: Packers shore up offensive line with Sherrod

There were plenty of surprises in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft, but everything was calm in Green Bay as the Packers selected offensive tackle Derek Sherrod with the final selection in the first round.

Sherrod started all 25 games the last two seasons at left tackle for the Bulldogs and his massive size had the Packers excited as to what he could do on the offensive line. His 35 3/8-inch arms and 11-inch hands were some of the biggest in the draft, and his 6-foot, 5-inch, 321-frame gives him prototypical size at left tackle.

The Packers obviously have not decided on whether or not Sherrod will play left or right tackle at the next level, but the pick gives Green Bay flexibility on the offensive line to mix and match the Sherrod and Bulaga at the tackle position.

Here is a scouting report on Sherrod, via ESPN.com insider and Scouts, Inc:

****To see the rest of this article, click here to read it on Examiner.com, completely free!****

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Green Bay Packers 2011 NFL Mock Draft, version 4.0

The NFL Draft is finally upon us, and for three days this weekend football fans can focus on the actual sport instead of labor negotiations that seem to be heading in the right direction. Past mocks can be found here, here, and here. This will be the final mock draft before things get going tonight on ESPN. As always, trades will not be taken into consideration because it is far to difficult to predict, and Ted Thompson never makes that easy.

Round 1, Pick No. 32: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

It’s almost a guarantee that tackles Tyron Smith, Nate Solder, Gabe Carimi and Anthony Castonzo will be gone when the Packers pick, but that doesn’t mean Sherrod isn’t worthy of the pick. Selecting an offensive tackle would allow Sherrod to improve behind Chad Clifton for a year and would also keep Bulaga at right tackle if that’s where his best fit is. Sherrod is also capable of making the switch to the right side, which would put Bulaga at left tackle when Clifton hangs them up. Protecting Aaron Rodgers is of utmost importance and the Packers could have their tackles for the decade in Bulaga and Sherrod.

Round 2, Pick No. 64: Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami

Donald Driver isn’t getting any younger and James Jones could leave via free agency this offseason, so drafting the ultra-talented Hankerson makes sense here. What Hankerson lacks in speed he makes up for with great hands, route-running and separation. At 6-feet, 1-inch he has good size and uses it well in traffic. Selecting Hankerson would allow Jones to walk this offseason, which he is almost assured of doing for starter’s money.

Round 3, Pick No. 96: Christopher Carter, OLB, Fresno State

****To see the rest of this article, click here to read it on Examiner.com, completely free!****

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Green Bay Packers’ 2011 Mock Draft: Version 3.0

Here is version 3.0 of my 2011 NFL mock draft for the Green Bay Packers. This mock will be different from the first two in that it will include wildcard picks. Ted Thompson has surprised Packers’ fans on more than one occasion and with so much talent on the current roster, the Packers can be flexible with their picks in 2011.

Version 1.0 can be found here.

Version 2.0 can be found here.

Round 1, Pick No. 32: Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland: The Packers have no glaring needs they must fill immediately, but they might be closest to needing a solid return man. Smith would do the trick. A combination of Tramon Williams, Jordy Nelson, James Starks and Sam Shields shared duties, but Smith would give the Packers a legitimate threat. He set the ACC record for kick return yards and has good size as a wideout. The Packers do not have a true speedster at wideout and with James Jones’ status in the air and Donald Driver aging, the slot could be a position of need in the near future.

Round 2, Pick No. 64: Sam Acho, OLB, Texas: This draft class has its fair share of top tier pass rushers, and while Acho isn’t one of them, he would still be a nice fit at outside linebacker. He’s a bit bulkier than a normal outside linebacker at 257 pounds, but that hasn’t stopped Acho. What he lacks in pass rushing he makes up for against the run, which is something the Packers struggled with in 2010.

Round 3, Pick No. 96:

****To see the rest of this article, click here to read it on Examiner.com, completely free!****

April 24, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Packers 2011 draft: What they could do at No. 32

Picking 32nd in the NFL draft is usually a good sign for your franchise, winning the Super Bowl and all, but it won’t do much help in the draft itself. Ted Thompson and the rest of the personnel in the war room will have their work cut out for them in the first round (assuming they keep the pick) and will see 31 players come off the board.

The Packers will have three options Thursday night to decide what to do with their first round selection. Here are the upsides and downsides to each option.

Keeping the pick: Staying in the first round has its obvious advantages: the top players in the class are available. This year’s crop of players set up nicely for the Packers to fill a potential need at offensive tackle, defensive end or outside linebacker, so there’s clearly upside. Last year’s 32nd pick, New Orleans Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson, was signed to a five-year deal worth $12.25 million, so money isn’t an issue, especially if the Packers think they have a steal. Options include, but are clearly not limited to, DE Cameron Heyward, OLB Brooks Reed, OLB Justin Houston, LT Derek Sherrod, and OG Danny Watkins.

Trade the pick, move up:

****To see the rest of this article, click here to read it on Examiner.com, completely free!****

April 21, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Four primetime games highlight Packers 2011 schedule

NFL schedules for the 2011 season were announced today, and the Super Bowl-champion Packers were awarded with four primetime games, including games on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Here’s a look at how the Packers’ 2011 schedule breaks down.

Week 1: Packers vs. Saints — The Super Bowl champions usually open up the NFL season each year, and this year is no different. This should be a game full of offense and scoring, with plenty of adrenaline going for both teams. The Saints underachieved last season, falling to the Seattle Seahawks in the wildcard round while trying to repeat as Super Bowl champs. Expect a tough game, but it’s hard to see the Packers losing on Opening Night at home. Prediction: Win

Week 2: Packers at Panthers — The Packers will open the road portion of their schedule in Carolina, where there is a good chance they will face quarterback Cam Newton, who is expected to be taken first overall by the Panthers. Just 2-14 last season, the Panthers have a lot of rebuilding to do and probably will not get it done between now and Week 2. Prediction: Win

Week 3: Packers at Bears — In a rematch of last year’s NFC Championship Game, the Bears will surely be seeking revenge after the Packers celebrated their trip to the Super Bowl on their own turf. After the Bears’ rise to success the NFL’s oldest rivalry is back in full swing, and this should be a game that is decided late in the fourth quarter. It’s nice that the Packers travel to Soldier Field early in the season, when weather will not have an effect on the game. Prediction: Loss

Week 4: Packers vs. Broncos: — Aaron Rodgers and the Packers should have a field day in their second home game of the season, facing a Broncos defense that ranked dead last in all of football a year ago. Kyle Orton should still be the starter this early in the season, but this author admittedly is hoping to see Tim Tebow under center. Either way, the Packers should cruise. Prediction: Win

Week 5: Packers at Falcons — After a heartbreaking overtime loss in the regular season, the Packers extracted their revenge with a 48-21 thrashing of the Falcons in the NFC divisional round. It’s always tough to beat Matt Ryan in the Georgia Dome, but the Packers had a few miscues in their regular season loss that may have changed the outcome of the game. Prediction: Loss

Week 6: Packers vs. Rams — The Packers will face another young quarterback, Sam Bradford, in Week 6, and they should move to 3-0 at home. The Rams missed the playoffs last season after falling to the Seahawks in the final game of the regular season. They are targeting a wide receiver early in the draft that could give Bradford some power on offense. Prediction: Win

Week 7: Packers at Vikings — The Packers’ second primetime game of the year, their only Monday night game of the year, will pin them against the Brett Favre-less Vikings (for now). Minnesota is still searching for answers at quarterback and have interest in Donovan McNabb, but the Packers should shut down the Minnesota defense, regardless of who is at quarterback. That being said, never underestimate rivalry games on national television. Prediction: Win

Week 8: Bye week — Fantasy owners, take note.

Week 9: Packers at Chargers — This could be the Packers’ toughest game on the schedule, so it’s great that it’s coming off a bye week. The Packers have had success in San Diego, most recently a 31-24 comeback win in 2007. The matchup between Rodgers and Phillip Rivers should be a fun one to watch. The Packers will have to bring their best stuff if they want a chance to win this one. Prediction: Win

Week 10: Packers vs. Vikings — The Packers had to hang on to beat the Vikings at home last year, 28-24, and this one should come down to the wire as well. With no Brett Favre leading the way, the Packers’ defense will need to bring the heat while Rodgers attempts to keep up his recent success against their rivals to the North. Prediction: Win

Advertisement

Week 11: Packers vs. Buccaneers — The biggest surprise in the NFL last year, the Buccaneers are back on the national stage. A young core is headed by quarterback Josh Freeman and suddenly this game looks a lot more difficult than it did last season. No one can forget the Packers’ brutal loss in Tampa Bay two years ago to the then-winless Bucs, so hopefully 2011 is kinder. Prediction: Loss

Week 12: Packers at Lions — The Packers will play on Thanksgiving Day this season against an up-and-coming Lions’ team looking for an upset. Detroit always plays well on Turkey Day and this year should be no different. Rodgers was knocked out of last year’s 7-3 loss and will be looking for a little revenge. Prediction: Win

Week 13: Packers at Giants — Green Bay ruined the Giants’ playoff chances a year ago with a huge 45-10 win in Lambeau Field a year ago, so expect New York ready to go this time around. The weather should be chilly but the Packers have to hope they have the same luck in the New Meadowlands Stadium they did a year ago, when they shut out the Jets 9-0. Prediction: Win

Week 14: Packers vs. Raiders — Oakland will leave sunny California for what is sure to be a snowy Lambeau Field in this one, but no weather conditions should change the outcome of this one. Rodgers and the Packers have been excellent at home in December (6-1) and 2011 should be no different. Prediction: Win

Week 15: Packers at Chiefs — Arrowhead Stadium is one of the toughest places in the NFL to get a win, but the Packers will give it a shot when they head to Kansas City in Week 15. The Chiefs underperformed last season but have a young defense and are only going to get better under Todd Haley. Expect this one to be a defensive dogfight. Prediction: Win

Week 16: Packers vs. Bears — Merry Christmas! The Bears will travel to Lambeau Field on Christmas night for what is sure to be one of the most highly anticipated games of the year. Both teams should be in contention late in the season, and there’s a chance this game could decide the NFC North. The Bears will also be looking for a win after last year’s loss in Lambeau allowed the Packers into the playoffs and, well, we all know the rest. Prediction: Win

Week 17: Packers vs. Lions — The Packers finish the season with three of their last four games at home, and if history is any indicator they should be fine. The Packers closed the year with the Lions in 2007 and 2008, and won both handily. Then again, let’s hope the Packers have nothing to play for at this point and are resting starters for another long playoff run. Prediction: Win

Predicted record: 13-3

Notes

The Packers toughest stretch of the year happens early. Three of the first five opponents are vs. New Orleans, at Chicago, and at Atlanta, so the Packers will need to come out of the gates hot.

The easiest stretch of the season comes at the end of the season. The last quarter of the season includes vs. Oakland, at Kansas City, and vs. Detroit. If the Packers can give themselves room before this stretch they should be golden to finish the year.

For dates and times of each game, click here.

For comments from Mike McCarthy, click here.

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Green Bay Packers’ mock draft, version 2.0

Round 1, Pick No. 32: Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia: The Packers’ top two needs, by this author’s estimation, are the offensive and defensive line, but Houston’s value is too good to pass up at the end of the first round. One of the most intriguing aspects of Houston’s play is that he has experience playing both defensive end and outside linebacker. For a 3-4 outside rusher, that should give him a head start as he makes his case for a starting gig in August. He’s one of the best pass rushers in the draft and, if he continues to fall down the board, would make a great addition opposite Clay Matthews.

Round 2, Pick No. 64: Jerrell Jernigan, WR/KR, Troy: Who? Ted Thompson tends to go with the biggest need in Round 2 after selecting the best player available in Round 1, and as crazy as it sounds the Packers’ biggest need could be kick returner. Jernigan ran a 4.46 40-yard dash and would, at the very worst, be the answer to the kick return needs. If James Jones leaves to get starter’s money, Jernigan would fit in perfectly as a speedy slot receiver behind Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, and Jordy Nelson. This is a huge wildcard pick given his questionable size (5-feet, 9-inches; 185 pounds) but then again, so is every pick in the NFL Draft. This could be a steal. In a nutshell, he is explosive.

Round 3, Pick No. 96: Chris Hairston, LT, Clemson: The Packers have plenty of depth on the offensive line, but outside of Chad Clifton, Bryan Bulaga, and potentially T.J. Lang, they’re thin on the outside. Hairston would be a project at left tackle, with the capability to move to right tackle, but it would give the Packers more options to work with around Bulaga. Hairston played well in the East-West Shrine Game but will need to work on his conditioning and footwork before he sees the field. That being said, his size and potential would make him a nice third round pick.

Round 4, Pick No. 129: Cortez Allen, CB, Citadel:

****To see the rest of this article, click here to read it on Examiner.com, completely free!****

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2011 Packers draft: Talent opposite Matthews could be had

Outside linebacker Clay Matthews followed up his stellar rookie campaign with an even better sophomore season, racking up 13.5 sacks and 60 tackles and finishing second in the AP Defensive Player of the Year voting. Making his production even more impressive was that, opposite Matthews, four players saw significant time due to injuries.

Frank Zombo, Brad Jones, Erik Walden and Brady Poppinga all saw time at right outside linebacker, with Jones and Poppinga being lost to season-ending injuries. There’s no question the Packers have plenty of depth at outside linebacker and, as is the case at a couple positions, there will be some tough decisions when Ted Thompson has to cut the roster to 53 players.

Zombo, an undrafted rookie free agent in 2010, is probably the best of the bunch with the brightest future, while Walden performed admirably after being signed in late October. Jones, a seventh round choice two seasons ago, has potential as well but projects as a back-up. Poppinga may make the roster as depth and a good special teams body, but that remains to be seen.

****To see the rest of this article, click here to read it on Examiner.com, completely free!****

April 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Packers’ 2011 NFL Mock Draft

The NFL offseason is here and, while there still isn’t a new CBA resolution, the draft will go on regardless. The Packers have multiple needs despite being Super Bowl champions, which we will look at later, but for now here’s a quick mock draft for the Packers’ 2011 draft.

1. Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA, 6-3, 254 pounds: Ted Thompson usually goes with the best player available in round 1, so it helps that this is also the Packers’ biggest need. Ayers does a little bit of everything with a very athletic frame. He’s great against the run, can drop back into coverage, and would be an excellent speed rusher opposite Clay Matthews.

2. Brandon Burton, CB, Utah, 6-0, 195 pounds: The Packers proved they had depth when Charles Woodson and Sam Shields went down with injuries in Super Bowl XLV, but it’s still a position of need with Woodson’s age and Pat Lee’s/Brandon Underwood’s future in doubt. Burton has great size (which Thompson loves) and plays the run as good as any cornerback in the draft. He would work as the Pack’s dime back until Woodson hangs them up, or moves to safety.

3. Will Rackley, OG, Lehigh, 6-3, 309 pounds:

****To see the rest of this article, click here to read it on Examiner.com, completely free!****

March 10, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Packers Hold Off Bears 21-14; Advance to Super Bowl XLV

What a game.

It probably wasn’t the contest either team pictured going in, but the Packers knocked off the Bears 21-14 Sunday at Soldier Field to advance to Super Bowl XLV. The game featured three Bears’ quarterbacks, two Aaron Rodgers interceptions, an interception returned for a touchdown from a 340-pound nose tackle, and two interceptions from an undrafted free agent rookie.

The Packers will take on the Pittsburgh Steelers, who also hung on to beat the New York Jets 24-19, Feb. 6 in Dallas, Texas. Here are game balls to hand out for the Packers’ NFC Title.

Sam Shields: For all the deserved talk cornerback Tramon Williams received over the last two weeks, it was another undrafted cornerback who came up huge for the Packers Sunday. Shields, a wide receiver-turned-cornerback from Miami, intercepted two passes and also recorded a sack, becoming the first rookie to ever do so in a playoff game. His first interception came late in the first half on the heels of an Aaron Rodgers interception in Chicago territory. Down 14-0, the Bears were looking to gain some momentum and were closing in on field goal range. Quarterback Jay Cutler lofted a pass down the left sideline intended for Johnny Knox, but Shields stayed stride-for-stride with Knox and made a leaping grab for the takeaway.

His second pick came in the final minutes and sealed the game for the Packers. Facing a 4th and 5 from the Packers’ 29-yard line, third string quarterback Caleb Hanie once again looked for Knox, but it was Shields who again jumped in front of his receiver to pick it off. He also added a sack and finished with four tackles. The addition of Shields has allowed the Packers to move Charles Woodson around without giving up too much on the outside, and the Packers’ defense has reaped the benefits. This was a mini-break out party for Shields, who was the Packers’ MVP today.

Greg Jennings: Aaron Rodgers was far from perfect today, missing some easy passes and throwing into traffic when he didn’t need to. However, the passes he did complete, or at least eight of them, were made far easier by the outstanding route-running and hands of Greg Jennings. He finished the game with eight catches for 130 yards and was targeted a team-high 11 times. In a game where field conditions were poor and neither offense was clicking, having a reliable set of hands on crucial plays was a main key to the game.

Jennings got things going early, catching passes on the first two plays of the game for 50 yards to put the Packers’ in great field position. Jennings was also on the receiving end of a few crucial second and third downs late in the game, keeping the Packers in great position to come out with the win. It’s not a stretch to say Jennings has become one of, if not, the best recievers in the league. He can beat teams from anywhere on the field on any kind of route, something that will be key in two weeks against the feared Steelers’ defense.

B.J. Raji:

****To see the rest of this article, click here to read it on Examiner.com, completely free!****

January 24, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What the Packers Should Have Done on Draft Day

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

****To see the rest of this article, click here to read it on Examiner.com, completely free!****

May 8, 2010 Posted by | Football, Green Bay Packers, NFL | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Packers Plan for the Future, select Bulaga in First Round

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.

****To see the rest of this article, click here to read it on Examiner.com, completely free!****

April 23, 2010 Posted by | Football, Green Bay Packers, NFL, NFL Draft | , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Clay Matthews Is the Defensive Rookie of the Year

If he was not a front-runner before Monday night’s game against the Ravens, Clay Matthews seems to have officially thrown his hat into the ring for defensive rookie of the year.  He finished the game with a career-high six tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble, a tackle for a loss, and a pass defended as the Packers defense held the Ravens to just 185 total yards.

Many questioned Ted Thompson when he traded three Day One draft picks in order to get back in the first round to select Matthews, but he has been well worth the cost of the draft picks.  Thompson passed on the likes of running back Beanie Wells and outside linebackers Everette Brown and Clint Sintim to arrive at Matthews.

The selection seemed like a head-scratcher at the time due to the higher-ranked players on the board at the time, but even Thompson admitted that had B.J. Raji not been available when the Packers picked ninth, Matthews was a possibility.

As is the case with most Ted Thompson moves, we have gone from scratching our heads to clapping our hands and screaming our lungs out as we watch Matthews fly all over the football field.

A hamstring injury in training camp  that seemed to last forever put Matthews behind the eight ball in terms of learning the new 3-4 defensive scheme under Dom Capers.  He appeared in just one preseason game and took some time to get his conditioning back, registering just four tackles in his first three games (with a sack).

Matthews’ first glimpse of greatness came on Monday Night Football against the Vikings in which Matthews, a reserve at the time, pursued towards running back Adrian Peterson, stripped him of the ball, and returned it 42 yards for a score.  It was that kind of play-making ability that has set Matthews off over the last ten weeks.

While his seven sacks are a great measure to show his ability to get to the quarterback, those numbers almost don’t do him justice.  Coming off the right end, Matthews has a non-stop moter off the edge and uses his pure athleticism to wreak havoc in the pocket.

Listed at 250 pounds, the slightly undersized Matthews has made up for his lack of size in other areas.  His pass coverage has been excellent for the majority of the year and he has registered six pass break-ups, which ranks him second behind Johnny Jolly for a non-defensive back.

Clay Matthews has been the NFL's best defensive rookie this season. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching)

Even past the stats, Matthews has meant so much for a defense that had a big question mark next to them entering the season.  With a new defense being implemented and veterans switching positions and roles, many wondered if a team that had been set up for a 4-3 defense could make the switch to a 3-4 in the matter of one off-season.

A big reason why they were able to has been the presence of Matthews.  Had it not been for the USC standout, the Packers would probably be starting Brady Poppinga at outside linebacker, a thought that would make most Packers fans sick.

When Aaron Kampman and Al Harris both went down with season-ending knee injuries in the span of two quarters, many wrote off the Packers.  Two veterans both playing at a high level for a defense with questionable depth was basically a death sentence.  The post-injury assignments included Matthews taking over Kampman’s role at getting to the quarterback.  In the two games since Kampman has been gone, Matthews has racked up three sacks and provided constant pressure every time he rushes.

Matthews’ former teammate Brian Cushing has put together a fantastic year for the Texans and is also a leading candidate for the DROY award.  However, the Texans rank 16th in total defense and 22nd against the run, and Cushing also has the pleasure of playing behind Mario Williams and alongside Demeco Ryans.

There is much more freedom in the 4-3 defense that Houston runs for Cushing to make plays, while Matthews’ best plays for the Packers are when Nick Collins intercepts a pass because a certain outside linebacker was breathing down the quarterback’s neck.  Other than the middle linebackers, stats are more spread out in the team-oriented 3-4 defense, something Matthews should not be penalized for.  Even so, stats are not everything and one can not look over the importance Matthews has played in the Packers defense this season.

Matthews has been one of the most productive players on the first-ranked defense in the league.  He is a Pro Bowler in the making and, as long as he is in the 3-4, should have a very productive career.  While his ticket to Hawaii might be punched one day, he will have to settle for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2009.

December 9, 2009 Posted by | Football, Green Bay Packers, NFL | , , | Leave a comment

Local Media Outlets Taking Unfair Shots at Packers

With two straight losses to the Vikings and Bucs, respectively, most fans in Green Bay have become impatient with the team.  More so, players have started to air their concerns to the media and people wonder whether or not the season has been lost already.  At 4-4, the Packers have their backs against the wall and are not in great shape to make a playoff run, but hardly out of it.

Recently, media sources have started to poke at Packers’ players, trying to pry comments out of them that would put the Packers’ coaching staff and Packers in a bad light.  Why?  Is asking players whether or not the loss of Brett Favre has the Packers in a “hangover state of mind” going to produce legitimate answers?  No one in that locker room cares about Brett Favre when they put that yellow helmet on and strap up to go fight for their team.

Asking Nick Collins how many pro bowlers Ted Thompson has drafted throughout his tenure brings nothing to positive to the table.  The answer is one and yes, Collins himself is the only player Thompson has drafted that has been to Hawaii.  Thompson also drafted Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, and Clay Matthews while signing Ryan Pickett, Charles Woodson, and Atari Bigby and trading for Ryan Grant in exchange for a seventh round draft pick.

Look Packers media outlets, blame Thompson all you want for not spending all that cap money (have we forgotten where Mike Sherman got us by doing that?) but don’t bring the players into this.  I understand that you have to ask so you can get your answers and write an article to get responses…just like I am doing right here by responding, but the Packers have not given up on anyone, including Mike McCarthy or Thompson.

Don’t even try to compare Ron Wolf, one of the greatest general managers in football’s history, to Thompson.  Their results through their first five years in terms of drafting players has been pretty much the same, but the results on the field have not.

On Twitter, Packers’ beat writers are basically making a mockery of McCarthy and the Packers’ offensive line.  Who exactly is this helping?  When McCarthy says that the Packers’ problems are correctable, I believe him.  Maybe this is just me being an optimistic Packers’ fan, but the season is not over.

It’s true that maybe McCarthy’s run as Packers head coach will be over at the end of this season, but as long as he is in charge players will back him and listen to what he has to say.  The problem is when the media looks for stories where there are none, asking if Favre is the reason for the record (other than the two losses), whether or not Rodgers was the right choice two years ago, or if Thompson is the right guy for the job.

Some of the bashing is warranted because the Packers have failed to live up to expectations, but the local media printing garbage is not going to get anyone anywhere.  Like I said, maybe they actually did do their job by getting a response out of me, but it sure wasn’t a positive one.

The Packers are struggling right now but attempting to get players to react in a way that would put the coaches or management in bad light makes little sense.  The 2009 Packers are not the 1996 Packers and Ted Thompson is not Ron Wolf.  It’s a different team with different talent levels.  Put the blame somewhere but don’t look for something that isn’t there.

November 11, 2009 Posted by | Football, Green Bay Packers, NFL | , , | Leave a comment