Packers Stock Report: Too Early to Know Much of Anything Edition

It’s been a healthy start to training camp for Packers OLB NIck Perry.

It’s way too early to know much of anything about the 2013 Packers, but I can’t help myself. It’s time for this season’s first Packers stock report.

Here is who I see rising, falling and remaining steady on the Packers after only a few practices:


Datone Jones
Jones added 20 pounds since his pro day and it appears as if it didn’t come from drinking beer and eating cheese curds. Most reports of Jones have been glowing, and the rookie from UCLA has Packers fans drooling at the possibility of finally having a versatile 3-4 defensive lineman to take the place of Cullen Jenkins.

Micah Hyde
Mike McCarthy singled Hyde out for praise after the first practice and it sounds like the rookie from Iowa has been solid in other practices as well. With a number of cornerbacks out with injuries or illness, Hyde has gotten an opportunity to show what he can do. So far, itsounds like he’s taking advantage.

Nick Perry
There hasn’t necessarily been a ton of ooohhhs and aaahhhs about Perry’s play so far in camp, but it sounds like the defensive end turned outside linebacker is healthy and ready to restart his career after a season-ending wrist injury knocked him out for most of his rookie campaign. If Jones is as advertised and Perry bounces back and provides pressure on the quarterback opposite of Clay Matthews, this defense could get better in a hurry.


Randall Cobb
It’s typically rookies who end up in the rising category this early in the season. Everyone is impressed with the Packers’ shiny new toys. A strong camp is now expected from a player like Cobb, who is entering his third season and is the leading candidate to become the team’s top receiver after Greg Jennings’ departure. We haven’t heard too much about Cobb thus far — a good thing because it probably means that he looks fine and there’s nothing much to report.

Sam Shields
Didn’t it seem like yesterday when Shields was a converted receiver just learning to play cornerback? Now he’s talked about as the Packers’ most talented corner and playing for a big payday. McCarthy said Shields looks a little rusty after missing OTAs because of a contract dispute, but it sounds like he’s continuing to play more physical and improving.

Jerron McMillian
Even though it appears that McMillian is the best safety in camp besides Morgan Burnett, I’m not yet ready to put him in the rising category. The Packers have Burnett and a bunch of unknowns at safety. Being second best in that group doesn’t mean much, at least not yet. It’s good to hear that McMillian looks good so far, but we’ll see how the competition plays out.


Tramon Williams
Williams was one of the best corners in football in 2010. He hasn’t been the same since a shoulder injury early in the 2011 season, and now he’ll probably miss a few weeks with a knee injury. Being a 30-year-old corner with a knee injury is a good way to land in the falling category.

DuJuan Harris
Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin got all the pub among Packers running backs in the offseason, but a lot of people thought DuJuan Harris might still be the best of the bunch. Turns out he’s also going to miss a few weeks with a knee injury. Running back is a crowded position, and missing time isn’t good news for the former used car salesman’s chances of cracking the starting lineup — or making the team.

Mike McCarthy’s Health
Curly’s Pub will be offering a series of burgers created by Packers players and coaches. The first burger is the “Mac Attack” burger created by coach Mike McCarthy, which is a 1/2-pound beef patty, topped with pepperoni, pepper jack cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato, onion, jalapeno, mayo, spicy mustard and French fries. I think McCarthy is one of the best coaches in the NFL and I want him to coach the Packers for a very long time. If he eats too many Mac Attack burgers, though, he might not make it through the season. Hopefully the Packers medical staff has a working defibrillator nearby at all times.

Previewing the 2013 Packers with Rivers McCown from Football Outsiders

The Football Outsiders 2013 Almanac

The Football Outsiders 2013 Almanac is out now!

The 2013 Football Outsiders Almanac is out now and I would advise Packers fans to pick up a copy. I’ve always enjoyed how the almanac blends modern analytics and metrics with traditional scouting and the unique perspectives of a talented writing staff.

Rivers McCown wrote this year’s chapter on the Packers. I don’t want to give the entire chapter away — don’t be a cheapskate, go buy yourself a copy — but I did want to bring a little Football Outsiders perspective over to one way or another.

Thankfully, Rivers took some time to answer a few very long-winded questions I asked him about the 2013 Packers. Here’s what he had to say:

Adam Czech: The Packers defense has been labeled “soft” by many fans and a few members of the media. Is there any truth to that label? Or is what some may perceive as being soft have more to do with being injured, slow, forced to play six DBs, or all of the above?

Rivers McCown: I wouldn’t say that they are “forced” to play six defensive backs. The Packers play defensive backs so much because they are trying to force opponents to beat them on the ground rather than through the air — San Francisco exempted, that was a pretty successful strategy. Calling a defense “soft” is kind of irrelevant to the point of whether a unit is actually good. It’s true that the Packers defense is more injury-prone over the past few years than many other units, but that doesn’t really make them soft — that’s just a strategic choice that Green Bay has made to chase players of that ilk because Ted Thompson can build depth like no one else in the league. “Soft” is just an imprecise way of trying to quantify the idea that a defense isn’t good enough, and Green Bay’s defense is good enough.
AC: Does Football Outsiders have any statistics on the success or failure other teams have had after swapping positions along the offensive line like the Packers will be trying this season?
RM: I wish I had some interesting answer for this, but no, not really. That’s the kind of study that would probably have to be done with only recent teams, because offensive line shuffles weren’t really tracked very well in the past and the motivations behind most of them are injuries to begin with, so you’d be trying to suss out meaning from that. I’d probably just omit this question from your post.
AC: Will Aaron Rodgers need to throw seven TDs per game in order to make up for having A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones as the Packers starting inside linebackers?
RM: I’m not saying A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones are good players or anything, but they’re pretty irrelevant at the macro level. The Packers went three deep to find Jones last season and still had few problems romping to the NFC North crown. Middle linebacker just isn’t an impact position like it used to be. Sure, in an ideal world you’d love someone who could cover better than Hawk, but Jones got paid a fairly decent amount to come back for a reason. They’ll be fine.
AC: Based on Football Outsiders’ metrics and your own keen eye, does Morgan Burnett have a shot at being as good as Nick Collins? Even if he doesn’t, is he good enough to make up for the lack of experience in the candidates to line up next to him at safety?
RM: I don’t think they are the same kind of safety. Collins was more of a rangy ballhawk, and Burnett has a more diversified skill set in that he doesn’t excel in one area like that, but does just about everything pretty well. In the sense that scheme-diverse players now rule the NFL, sure, Burnett has a shot at being as good as Collins. Honestly, we’re pretty high on the other safeties too. Jerron McMillian made our top-25 prospects list. M.D. Jennings has also shown some skill. It was very telling that Thompson didn’t go out and get a new safety this offseason, when it was theoretically possible with the Charles Woodson cap space.
AC: With Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin now on the team, do you think Mike McCarthy really will run the ball more? Or will he run the same amount, but hope for better results?
RM: We ran something on ESPN Insider earlier this year that basically noted that the number of runs the Packers have had under McCarthy — even during years like 2008, where Ryan Grant was generally getting good results — stayed pretty much the same. I’d expect Green Bay to keep running the ball as often as they always have. I’d also expect them to improve significantly because I am very high on the talent of both of those backs.
AC: I know I’m over my question limit, but one more if you don’t mind: Any chance DuJuan Harris is better than both Lacy and Franklin?
RM: I guess it’s theoretically possible. I know a few Packers beat writers still believe Harris is RB No. 1 coming in to camp. I just don’t see it on a talent level. Harris played above his weight class last year. He’s a punchy little scatback, and those have value in today’s NFL when they can also return kicks, but as a 16-game starter? Ehh. I think Thompson told you all you needed to know about his thoughts on that when he drafted two new backs.
A big thank you to Rivers for answering my questions and giving readers a little more insight into the 2013 Packers as training camps rolls along. Now go buy a copy of the almanac.

Surviving Sunday: News, Notes and Analysis from Packers Training Camp

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Surviving Sundays with no Packers Football

Now that Packers training camp is underway, Surviving Sunday is shifting gears a bit.

Gone is the lengthy opening column where I wax poetic about a topic that may or may not relate to the Packers. Also gone are the non-Packers links to non-sports items and other nonsense.

Starting now, Surviving Sunday will be 100 percent focused on the Packers and all the happenings from the previous week’s training camp practices and exhibition games. With training camp in full gear, the Packers are getting serious about the 2013 NFL season. It’s time for Surviving Sunday to get serious, too.

Aches and pains
Before the first practice even started, there were several Packers standing on the sidelines, injured. Perhaps the Packers need to fire their medical staff and just hire a bunch of people who work at a Fed Ex store and specialize in using bubble wrap to protect delicate items.

Here is the list of the walking wounded: DL/OLB Mike Neal (abdomen), CB Casey Hayward (hamstring), RB DuJuan Harris (knee), T Derek Sherrod (leg), DL Jerel Worthy (knee), OL J.C. Tretter (ankle), S Sean Richardson (neck), CB Davon House (illness) and LB Jamari Lattimore (illness).

Neal and Hayward hurt themselves training on their own and were surprise injuries (although, I’m not sure how surprising it should be any more when Neal turns up injured). It sounds like Hayward and Harris should both be out a week or two, but who knows.

Depending how long Harris is out, it could open up the door for Alex Green or James Starks to A) stay on the team and/or B) impress in camp and move up the depth chart.

If those injuries weren’t enough, rookie WRs Charles Johnson, Kevin Dorsey and Sederrik Cunningham also went down on the first days of practice. Someone needs to make a sacrifice to the football Gods so they show a little mercy on our favorite team. (Update: Sounds like Johnson will be fine.)

Drama and gossip
Aaron Rodgers’ first news conference of camp sounded more like a group of high school kids catching up on the latest gossip than a football media session. Rodgers addressed the Ryan Braun/PED situation — saying “it doesn’t feel great being lied to” — and basically dismissed the recent barbs Greg Jennings sent his way from across the border in Minnesota.

I understand that Rodgers needed to address these items, but here’s hoping that kind of stuff goes away now. I don’t care at all about the Rodgers/Braun relationship or whatever new soundbite Jennings provides the Minnesota media. I want to hear Rodgers talk about scheming against a cover-2 or what he thinks of some of his younger WRs, not his buddies who fib about HGH or ex-teammates trying to remain relevant by taking shots at the former MVP.

Mix tape
If you could make a mix tape for the Packers to practice to, what songs would you put on it?

If you come up with a good playlist, get in touch with Packers coach Mike McCarthy. The head coach is simulating TV timeouts and blaring music over the PA system during practice as a strategy for reducing injuries. It’s one of many things McCarthy said he’s trying to do to turn around his team’s recent stretch of bad injury luck.

We won’t know if any of McCarthy’s ideas make an impact until later this season and beyond, but I’m cool with the coach trying some new things.

My mix tape would contain a lot of Slayer, Mastodon, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. Those bands would get the softness out of the Packers’ defense in a hurry and turn their offensive line into a five-man destruction crew. Then again, maybe they’d be too wound up after hearing “Raining Blood” during practice and would start hitting each other harder, leading to even more injuries (and deaf players and coaches).

Positive injury news?
It sounds like Derek Sherrod may be making progress after sitting out the last 19 months with a terrible leg injury. Is this a ray of hope among all the doom and gloom Packers’ injury news?

I’ll believe Sherrod is making progress when he actually suits up for practice. Even then, how much can we expect from a guy who’s been out for nearly two years? I’m rooting for Sherrod because he seems like a good kid and the Packers could use all the help they can get on the line, but let’s not get too excited about a first-day-of-camp report.

In other offensive line news, Don Barclay is playing some center and struggled a bit snapping the ball to Aaron Rodgers on Saturday. It also appears that Marshall Newhouse is the No. 1 right tackle, for now.

Other Notes

  •  McCarthy singled out DB Micah Hyde for praise after the first day of practice. There are rumblings that the rookie from Iowa might be battling Jarrett Bush for a roster spot. We’ll see how that shakes out as camp continues.
  • With all the injuries to the WRs, could the Packers give Donald Driver a call? James Jones says Driver might have the itch to keep playing. Nonetheless, Driver looked and played an old WR last season, and even with the injuries, I can’t see him  helping the Packers much.
  • Some other things worth reading from this week: Jayme Snowden on Johnny Jolly and addiction; John Rehor on the Packers running game — his first piece for; No Huddle Radio tackles the top 10 Packers training camp topics; Brian Carriveau leads a crew of Packers and NFL analysts in previewing the Packers.
  • The Packers have their first padded practice this morning. Now things will start to get even more serious. Keep visiting for all the latest Packers information as training camp progresses and real football approaches.

The Rejected Shareholders Meeting Speech from Packers GM Ted Thompson

Packers GM Ted Thompson.

A source provided the below speech that was rejected by Ted Thompson for Wednesday’s Packers shareholder meeting. Unfortunately, Thompson decided to not use this speech, and just wasted everyone’s time like he’s done at every other shareholder meeting. Hopefully Ted changes his mind and uses a speech like this next year.

“Before I get started, I first want to thank everyone who is here today. Many of you forked over $250 to buy Packers’ stock a few years ago, and for that, the entire organization is truly grateful.

All of us in Packers’ upper management love you people, even though we think you’re insane and make jokes about you behind closed doors. I mean seriously, you guys fork over $250 so you can hang a certificate on your wall and come here every year to listen to me say absolutely nothing about your favorite football team. The last couple of years, I’ve literally stood at this very podium and read off the names on the roster. If you paid me $250 to listen to myself talk, I wouldn’t do it.

But I had an epiphany the other day. I was watching tape of some unknown prospect that you all have never heard of, but will one day get mad at me for drafting, when I realized the Packers owed you more for your $250 than what you’ve been getting at this event every year.

What I am going to give you today is actual insight into some of the decisions that were made about this season’s team. Hopefully you think it’s $250 worth of insight. I happen to think it’s worth $2 million because insight from Ted Thompson — yes, I just referred to myself in the third person — is super rare and worth a lot.

(Pause for fans to whisper among themselves and get over the initial shock of what you’ve said so far)

I saw the other day that Charles Woodson said he’d retire as an Oakland Raider. I know Charles has his own brand of wine and it must be some good s#^t!! I should try some. Without myself and the Green Bay Packers, Woodson would probably be making $40,000 a year as a sideline reporter for Division I-AA college football games on ESPN U. I never sign free agents. But I signed him off the scrap heap. It’s nonsense to think of Charles Woodson as anything but a Green Bay Packer. I know when you get cut it sucks. I really do. But c’mon Charles, have a little perspective.

Then there’s Greg Jennings. He must be planning to catch passes with his mouth this season because it’s been wide open and running 100 miles-per-hour ever since he signed with the Vikings. I draft wide receivers that are just as good as you by accident, Greg. I hope you enjoyed popping off at the mouth in July because it’s probably going to be your hamstring that pops in September.

(Pause to let the crowd gasp and whisper among themselves at this shocking comment)

Ok, enough with the negativity. Let’s talk about the players who are on this team.

I like this team. I really do. I know a lot of you are worried about the safety opposite of Morgan Burnett, the offensive line, inside linebacker and stopping the read option. I’m telling you, we’ll be fine. There’s going to be some bumps along the way, but we’ll be fine.

(Pause for awkward silence)

As this season progresses, you’re going to see a lot of the young guys on this team grow into solid players. It happens almost every year. I get rid of some old guy or injured guy, and one of my draft picks or undrafted rookies that nobody’s heard of steps up and plays well. It’s extremely rewarding to me when that happens. I lock the door in my office, tear off my shirt, and pound my chest while screaming “WHO’S GOT TWO THUMBS AND IS THE BEST GM IN THE NFL?! THIS GUY!!!”

(Pause for nervous laughter and applause)

All of you should try that some time. Instead of getting all pissy because I didn’t sign this free agent or that free agent for some exorbitant salary, take a look at the youngsters on the roster and have a little faith in them. It’s pretty cool when you’re on these guys before the rest of the world and you can say, “See, I told you he was a player.”

Jerron McMillian, Terrell Manning, Davon House, DuJuan Harris, David Bahktiari, Jarrett Boykin — these are all under-the-radar young guys who wouldn’t surprise me one bit if they played well beyond our expectations.

(Pause for applause)

I know a lot you hate Jermichael Finley.

(Pause for 10-minute standing ovation)

I do too. But Good Lord, if he ever stops being an idiot and plays up to his potential, that hate will turn into love pretty quick. There were some rumblings that I was going to cut Jermichael this offseason. I wanted to, but couldn’t. Jermichael’s size, speed and strength still causes other teams to freak out and adjust their entire defense for him. Until teams figure out that Finely isn’t worth pooping their pants over, he has value. And who knows, maybe he’ll grow up a bit and resemble the tight end against the Cardinals in the playoffs from a few years ago.

(Pause to let the audience shrug their shoulders and nod their heads in reluctant agreement)

I’d like to give you some insight into our offensive line, but I’m really just throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks with those guys. I like drafting college tackles, then making them play guard and center in the NFL. This hasn’t necessarily worked very well, but for some reason I keep doing it. Maybe one day I’ll get better about evaluating offensive line talent, but for now, I’ll just let Aaron Rodgers cover up our shortcomings with that group.

(Don’t pause. If you pause here, it gives the audience time to realize that you just admitted you have no clue what you’re doing when it comes to offensive linemen)

I kind of want to see what this Italian kicker looks like in camp. The reason I didn’t axe Mason Crosby last season was because there were no other kickers out there who would’ve been better. Some people thought I didn’t make a move at kicker because ‘that’s not what the Packers do.’ Nonsense. I’m Ted Effing Thompson. I have no problem cutting somebody.

(Pause for the republicans in the audience to pump their fist and say “YEAH. ONLY THE STRONG SURVIVE!! ‘Merica!!!”)

But you can’t just go around cutting people on a whim. I draft these guys. I need to show a little faith in them every now and then. Christ, if I listened to you emotional fans on roster decisions, everyone would be cut by week four. All players deserve an opportunity and a little backing if they screw up.

(Pause for the democrats in the audience to nod their head, take a bit of their granola bars, and praise you for your sensitivity)

Speaking of screw ups, we’ve had some bad ones in the playoffs the last two seasons. It’s not acceptable and it pisses me off. I’m sure you all feel the same. I wish I had an answer for you as to why we’ve gotten our asses kicked in our last two playoff losses. I wish I could point to this roster move, that coaching decision, or an on-field error that could explain it all away, but I can’t.

In today’s NFL, what you want is a chance — to be among the handful of teams come December with a legit shot to win the whole damn thing. The Packers have been one of those teams since 2009 and we will be again in 2013. Hell, we did end up winning the whole damn thing a couple years ago.

I wish I could stand up here and guarantee another title in 2013, but I can’t. I can guarantee, however, that we’ll be one of the handful of teams with a shot come December. A quarterback change, massive roster turnover and injury-plagued seasons hasn’t stopped us from contending over the last four seasons and it won’t stop us this season.

That might not be the inspirational speech and bold declaration you want to hear, but it’s the truth.

Thank you again for coming out today. That’s enough candor from me for, oh, the next 10 years or so. I look forward to our next chat when I will return to my regular method of talking while saying absolutely nothing.”

(Take a bow. Soak in the applause. Exit stage. Wait for applause to build and continue. Return to stage for an encore)

“Ok. Ok. Ok. I’ll give you one more moment of candor: Brett Favre hates me. He didn’t care for me much from the get-go and it got real ugly when he left. But the Packers are making progress toward bringing Brett back into the family. I’m going to stand off to the side while all of that happens because I don’t want to scare him away. Brett Favre means more to the Green Bay Packers than Ted Thompson ever will, and he should be welcomed back with open arms when the time is right….unless he tries to make me trade for Randy Moss again. Then he can just stay away.”

Packers have had the Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair of Quarterbacks in Last 17 Seasons

Aaron Rodgers has held the championship belt as the NFL’s best QB since 2010. Brett Favre held it from 1995-98.

Next time you complain about Aaron Rodgers holding the ball too long or grimace at the memory of a Brett Favre interception, remember this: The Packers have had the best quarterback in the NFL for seven of the past 17 seasons.

That’s the conclusion Grantland’s Bill Barnwell reached, anyway, after a comprehensive study breaking down the NFL QB championship belt holder since 1959.

Yes, Barnwell’s findings are subjective, but even if his logic is a little flawed, it’s still damn impressive just how good the quarterback play has been in Green Bay over the last 17 seasons.

Barnwell goes on to highlight how a quarterback’s reign at the top typically doesn’t last very long. No QB has spent more than four seasons with the QB championship belt. Rodgers has been the best since 2010. He’ll turn 30 this season and the next crop of young quarterbacks are rapidly advancing as top contenders to take his title.

Of course, if Rodgers’ reign does end, it doesn’t mean he’ll turn into a jobber. There’s nothing wrong with being the Intercontinental Champ or even a tag team title holder. Rodgers would still be more than capable of winning the cage match known as the Super Bowl and bringing another team championship belt back to Green Bay.

Kurt Warner ended Favre’s four-season reign from 1995-98. Favre, Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana and Petyon Manning were the only QBs to wear the belt for four straight seasons.

Yes, I’m still going to holler at my TV when Rodgers ignores a wide open receiver underneath and heaves a pass 50 yards downfield that falls incomplete. I’ll still curse some of Favre’s silly interceptions and his divorce from the Packers.

But deep down, I’ll know that the Packers have been lucky enough to have both the Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair of quarterbacks over the last 17 seasons. Two all-time greats. Two memorable characters. Two world champions.

Packers OL Andrew Datko: Training Camp Dark Horse or Off the Team?

Packers offensive lineman Andrew Datko

We don’t know much about Packers offensive lineman Andrew Datko because he was stashed away on the practice squad all of last season.

What we did know about him after the Packers drafted him in the seventh round in 2012 we’ve probably already forgotten because, well, he was on the practice squad all of last season.

Because the Packers offensive line situation always seems to be in some sort of disrepair, it’s important that we keep any offensive lineman who can walk upright fresh on our mind before training camp battles begin.

Here’s a refresher on Datko so you don’t have to ask yourself “Who is that guy?” should Datko make some noise during camp.

  • At Florida State, Datko started 12 of 13 games as a true freshman at left tackle. Even though he only weighed 260 pounds, he still had 21 knockdown blocks. Talk about starting your college career with a bang.  
  • He started all 13 games his sophomore season and only allowed two sacks. In 11 games as a junior, he only allowed one sack.
  • Things went downhill from there. After starting the first four games of his senior season, Datko hurt his shoulder — the same shoulder he hurt in high school. The injury required surgery in November and Datko couldn’t lift at the NFL combine, causing him to freefall down draft boards and fall right off many of them.
  • Physically, Datko is the type of offensive lineman the Packers like to draft: A successful college left tackle (when healthy) who is athletic, versatile and could theoretically play multiple positions.
  • Datko’s ceiling in 2013 is winning the Packers sixth man job along the offensive line. If he does that, both Datko and the Packers have to be ecstatic. It would mean the 6-foot-6, 315 pounder is healthy and Ted Thompson can breathe a little bit easier if Derek Sherrod is a lost cause.
  • Obviously, Datko’s worst-case scenario is the shoulder acting up again and getting cut.
  • Realistically, look for Datko to be in the mix for the seventh or eighth offensive line slot, probably not the sixth. The sixth-man job likely goes to the loser of the battle to start at right tackle. Datko lined up at guard during OTAs, which also helps his chances of making the team, if healthy.

Here’s a quick rundown of the Packers offensive line situation. In for sure: Bryan Bulaga, Josh Sitton, Evan Dietrich-Smith, T.J. Lang, Marshall Newhouse. Probably in: David Bakhtiari, Don Barclay, Sherrod (if healthy). Fighting for their lives: Datko, Greg Van Roten, Lane Taylor, whoever the hell they list as a backup center.

There are already eight offensive lineman with a head start on Datko. Another one (Van Roten) is also probably ahead of him.

The odds for Datko don’t look very good, but it’s hard to count out a guy who was so promising before getting hurt.

(Also, do we know where Datko was when J.C. Tretter broke his ankle? Tretter’s injury cleared another obstacle for Datko to make the team. That’s how I view it from atop my grassy knoll, anyway.)

Fact Czech: Packers Tackle Marshall Newhouse will Never be any Good

Packers tackle Marshall Newhouse can be good on the right side of the offensive line.

Packers tackle Marshall Newhouse can be good on the right side of the offensive line.

Marshall Newhouse should be benched whenever the Packers play the New York Giants. He shouldn’t even be active.

In three games against the Giants since 2011 — including a playoff loss — Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 11 times and the Packers have managed only 230 total rushing yards when you subtract Rodgers’ scrambles.

Obviously, Newhouse isn’t the only Packers offensive lineman responsible for all that ineptitude, but he’s probably not going to be showing the game film from those contests to his grandkids one day.

Pro Football Focus (PFF) gave Newhouse a cumulative grade of -16.9 for all three Giants games. Both regular season games against the Giants were Newhouse’s worst of the season in 2011 and 2012 according to PFF.

No doubt those abominations against the Giants stick in the minds of Packers fans, as well they should. As my old high school history teacher used to say when lecturing about bloody military battles, “It weren’t purdy.”

I’m sure Mike McCarthy weighed Newhouse’s performance in games against New York — a team with good pass rushers and a disruptive defensive front seven — into his decision to move Bryan Bulaga to left tackle. But just because Newhouse lost his left tackle gig, it doesn’t mean he’s a lost cause.

I think the odds are decent that he’ll end up being a good right tackle in Green Bay. Unfortunately, many Packers fans seem to think there is no hope left for Newhouse. Perhaps they’ll end up being right, but I wouldn’t close the book on him yet.

Let’s crack open the PFF numbers again. I like PFF, but sometimes I hesitate to cite them because people either think PFF’s work is gospel, or complete nonsense, and it distracts from the topic at hand. In Newhouse’s case, I think the PFF numbers give some context to Newhouse’s overall career and helps us not just remember the glaringly bad games, like the three against the Giants.

Newhouse made a drastic improvement from 2011 to 2012. His overall rating jumped 28 points, from -32 in 2011 to -4.3 last season. Newhouse finished with a 5.3 pass-block rating last season, a 21-point improvement from -16.5 in 2011.

He had a 10.8 pass-block rating through 11 games last season . Then he had a three-week slump and evened out again down the stretch. Newhouse was responsible for eight sacks and 37 pressures in 779 passing plays — not great numbers, but not all that bad, either, and a huge improvement from the previous season.

I’ve always liked Newhouse’s footwork and mobility. If he can ever figure out how to handle strength/speed combo pass rushers who dip and get under him on bull rushes, he’ll be fine (you could say the same thing about most offensive tackles in the NFL).

The run blocking numbers for Newhouse aren’t pretty no matter which way to look at them. I’m not even going to get into them. Just know they’re bad. If you want to argue that Newhouse is a lost cause as a run blocker, I won’t fight you too much.

But let’s say Newhouse gets a little more consistent as a pass blocker and improves somewhat as a run blocker. Would that make him a good fit at right tackle for the Packers?

I think so. I don’t see pro bowls in Newhouse’s future, but I don’t see a ticket out of the league like some Packers fans seem to think.

No matter how many running backs Ted Thompson drafts or how often McCarthy talks about running the ball, the Packers success will come through the passing game. If Newhouse can morph into an Earl Dotson or Chad Clifton-lite type of player on the right side, he’ll be fine.

And I think there is a legit chance of that happening.

The statement that “Newhouse will never be any good” does not pass the Fact Czech test.

Fact Czech is a regular feature leading into Packers training camp where writer Adam Czech examines Packers narratives and talking points that have developed in the offseason. 

Green Bay Packers What If Roster Scenarios

What if Micah Hyde can do what Jarrett Bush does, only better? Does Bush get cut?

Are you ready to really scramble the Packers portion of your brain?

Let’s go over a few “What If” Packers roster scenarios. Your head will begin spinning in 3, 2, 1…

What if a RB/FB emerges as a really good pass blocker?
Then John Kuhn — due to make $1.6 million this season — might be out of a job. Besides being the only reliable blocking back, what else does Kuhn bring to the team besides a recognizable fan chant whenever he touches the ball? He’s not a reliable option for picking up short-yardage first downs. He’s not a run blocker. He’s got decent hands, but it’s not like his receiving would be sorely missed. I know he’s tight with the quarterback, and cutting a reliable pass-blocking back in this offense would be risky, even if another back emerges as a blocker in preseason. But it wouldn’t surprise me to see Kuhn gone if Mike McCarthy is confident in having someone else out there on third downs to protect Aaron Rodgers.

What if Johnny Jolly has a great training camp and preseason?
The Packers kept six defensive lineman on the opening day roster last season. The six did not include Mike Neal, who was suspended for the first four games. Neal, Josh Boyd, Datone Jones, C.J. Wilson, B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett and Mike Daniels are probably frontrunners to secure spots this season. Jerel Worthy will likely start on the physically unable to perform list and may eventually move to injured reserve. If — and it’s a big if — Jolly is too good to cut, could Daniels go? He had a few moments in 2012, but seems too small to become a major impact player. Other than Daniels — and even he seems pretty safe — I don’t know who else would go to make room for Jolly. I guess the most likely scenario if Jolly is good is keeping eight defensive lineman and stashing Worthy on the PUP. You could probably get an extra roster spot by going with five wide receivers and eight linebackers after opening with six and nine, respectively, in 2012. The bottom line is this: Jolly is going to have to be damn good to make the team. And if he is, it’s going to lead to a lot of other roster dominos falling.

What if Micah Hyde is REALLY good on special teams?
Here’s another way the Packers could get an extra roster spot for another defensive lineman and save a few extra bucks: Cut Jarrett Bush if Micah Hyde is just as good as Bush on special teams and better in the secondary. Cutting Bush would save about $1 million against the cap. Combine that with cutting Kuhn as discussed in the opening to this post and the Packers would have an extra $2.6 million to possibly extend Randall Cobb, Sam Shields, B.J. Raji, James Jones or another 2014 free agent. Would the Packers really miss Kuhn and Bush all that much? Depends how the younger players currently underneath them look in camp.

That’s enough what if scenarios for now. Remember, these what if scenarios are pure speculation and spitballing, so don’t get all wound up at me if none of these prove to be true. Fire away in the comments section, though, with some what if scenarios of your own. Once you get rolling on these, the possibilities are endless.

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

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Packers training camp is only a few weeks away, which means it’s time to get excited.

And worry.

Any good fan worries. It’s normal. You get excited about all the possibilities of the upcoming season, but you also can’t help but fret over certain worst-case scenarios that could play out and ruin the season.

Some people might call this worrying “negativity.” Those people are wrong. They worry just as much as you, and their way of coping is by criticizing others who worry openly.

What’s your biggest worry about the Packers as training camp gets closer?

I suppose Aaron Rodgers’ good fortune running out and missing multiple games with an injury is always a concern, but I tend to not worry about injuries so much because you literally have no ideal from year to year what a team’s injury luck might be.

For me, I worry about impact players in the middle of the Packers defense. A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones, Morgan Burnett and either Jerron McMillian or M.D. Jennings will likely be roaming the middle of the field for the Packers on defense.

Do any of those players strike fear into opposing offenses?

It’s nice to have an impact player up the middle to wallop somebody and force a fumble or range across the field and make a pick to change the momentum of the game or make up for shortcomings in other area’s of the defense.

Hawk definitely isn’t that type player. We’re not sure yet about Jones, but I don’t have my hopes up. Burnett is a good player, but hasn’t yet ascended to playmaker status. McMillian and Jennings are unknowns, but again, I wouldn’t get my hopes up — especially about Jennings who is really small.

So, there’s your does of negativity for the day. Or what some people call negativity and I call worrying like any normal fan would.

I do think the Packers defense will be better, but I’d be a lot more confident if their players up the middle had at least one proven playmaker. Hopefully Jones, Burnett or McMillian/Jennings ascends this season and makes all my worrying for not.

Packers News, Notes and Links

  • Clay Matthews says he is ready to be more of a leader. You know it’s time for the offseason when the “Player A hopes to be more of a leader this season” stories start popping up. Just once, I’d like to see a player say, “You know what? I am not going to be more of a leader this season. Instead of making inspirational speeches before games, I’m going to take a nap and catch up on episodes of “Downton Abbey.” When young players come to me searching for wisdom, I’ll send them to McCarthy because he’s the coach and gets paid to lead. I’m paid to make tackles and sack quarterbacks.”
  • Speaking of leadership, for anyone who needs guidance in how to shoo away annoying celeb hunters, Aaron Rodgers does a pretty good of it here. Lombardi Ave. asks if Rodgers is really worth following around with a camera for TMZ footage. What sort of salacious thing does TMZ think Rodgers might do? Get caught sneaking into a limo with Brett Favre? Accidentally leave his playbook at a VIP booth in a swanky club? Intervene before an intoxicated and shirtless Ted Thompson leaps on a table and starts dancing to “Let me see your hips Swing?”
  • Sam Shields and Casey Hayward are listed as No. 15 on Jason Wilde’s list of most important Packers. Even though Wilde cheated and listed two players at No. 15, his annual list is a must-read and a good way to get up to speed before Packers training camp opens.
  • Zach Kruse takes a look at what a contract extension for Randall Cobb might look like now that Victor Cruz signed an extension with the Giants. The Packers are also reportedly looking at extending Morgan Burnett. Good. Burnett isn’t the big-play machine that Nick Collins was (yet), but he’s solid and has remained healthy after missing most of his rookie season. Sign him now before he realizes he’s worth more than what the Packers are offering.
  • Acme Packing Company has started making predictions about the Packers roster. As of now, the only thing I’m predicting is that the Packers will have 47 players active on gameday.
  • Our own Jason Perone was a guest on Brian Carriveau’s Railbird Central this week. Jason has a voice that can both soothe a crying child and hold the attention of a grown Packers fan. I call him the Barry White of Packers podcasters. A big thank you to Brian for having the entire crew on Railbird this summer. If you aren’t already listening to Brian’s show, shame on you. Catch up on past episodes here.

Non-Packers Links and Other Nonsense

  • At least Louis CK made Forbes’ list of the 10 highest paid comedians. The other nine are about as funny as me.
  • I had one crazy ex-girlfriend, but I don’t think she was Anna Benson crazy.
  • John Lunness was molested by a priest as a child, then grew up to become a priest himself. Jeff Pearlman does a Q&A with Lunness and it’s fascinating.

Fact Czech: The Packers Defense is Soft

hawkWe’re less than three weeks away from the start of training camp, and already narratives are being formed and talking points are being accepted as fact about the 2013 Green Bay Packers.

From now until the start of camp, I’ll Fact Czech (see what I did there? Heh.) some of these narratives and presumed truths and use my unmatched Packers wisdom to see if they hold up.

Uh oh. I already noticed a statement that didn’t pass the Fact Czech test: My Packers wisdom is not unmatched. It is matched by many, and surpassed by many more. But that doesn’t stop me from appointing myself as the official Packers Fact Czecher of the Universe.

Here we go.

Statement: The Packers defense is soft.

Does it pass the Fact Czech test? No.

I get where people are coming from when they say the Packers defense is soft. I even say it myself, sometimes.

But when we say the Packers defense is soft, what we’re really saying is that the Packers defense is bad.

How many defenses in the history of football have been both good and soft? Zero, that’s how many.

When the defense goes out and lays another egg against New York or lets Colin Kapernick run all the way to Tomah, Wis. and back during a playoff game, we want an easy answer as to why that happened.

“Well, the Packers D is soft! That’s why it happened! If they were just tougher, they could stop these teams! Duh!”

What does it mean to be soft on defense? Does it mean players are scared to tackle the ballcarrier? Does it mean they run away when a lineman tries to block them? Does it mean they cry when Adrian Peterson dips his shoulder and tries to pick up a few extra yards? Does it mean they shudder in fear before running onto the field before the next defensive series?

Nobody know what makes a defense soft. It’s just a word that comes to mind when describing a bad defense.

What does it mean to be tough on defense? Typically, defenses that don’t let other teams score a lot of points — exactly what a good defense is supposed to do — are labelled as tough. Tough is another adjective for good. What makes a defense tough? Do they eat nails before the game? Do they cagefight each other for recreation? Do they wear short sleeves when temperatures dip below zero? Do they punch, kick, stomp and spit on opposing players?

Nobody knows what makes a defense tough. It’s just an easy word used to describe a good defense.

Sometimes defenses get beat because they’re not as good as the other team. The other team’s offensive line is bigger and stronger than the Packers’ defensive line. The tight ends and running backs are too much for the linebackers to handle. The quarterback is too accurate or fast to be stopped. The offensive coordinator is one or two steps ahead of the defensive coordinator.

Saying a defense is soft is akin to saying Team A got beat by Team B because Team B “wanted it more.” It’s silly. I’m sure Team A wanted it just as much as Team B, but they weren’t as good as Team B on a particular day and got beat by the better team.

Don’t say the Packers defense is soft, just say they’re bad. We don’t know what soft means. And if the Packers defense has a good season in 2013, don’t say they’re tough, just say they’re improved, or even good.

Saying the Packers defense is soft does not pass the Fact Czech.