2015 Packers Position Group Analysis: Defensive Line

Packers defensive line:  While we’re all clamoring for the Packers to finally fix their gaping hole at inside linebacker through the draft or free agency, let’s not forget that the defensive line needs some work, too. Potentially, a lot of work. When opposing teams decided to come at the Packers with a power-running attack in 2014, Green Bay’s smallish defensive front often resembled a squirrel that ran out in front of an 18-wheeler and looked up just in time to see the rig’s headlights bearing down before getting flattened. The Packers’ d-line has some good athletes. It also improved later in the season. But it could use more bulk and grit.

Where are we now:

Here are the current suspects;

Mike Daniels
Datone Jones
Josh Boyd
Mike Pennel
Luther Robinson
Bruce Gaston
B.J. Raji
Letroy Guion

Mike Daniels: Need someone to wreck a running play? Daniels can do it. Need QB pressure on an obvious passing down? Daniels can do it. Need endless energy and 125 percent effort at all times? Daniels brings it. Need a tough-guy attitude and a physical style of play? Daniels is your man. Daniels flies under the radar of most non-Packers fans, but he’s exactly what the Green Bay defense needed last season. I see no reason why he won’t continue playing at a high level, and maybe even get better.

Datone Jones: 2015 will be Jones’s third in the NFL. It’ll also be the year we find out if Jones was yet another first-round bust for Packers general manager Ted Thompson. Jones was playing well early in the 2014 season, then got hurt for a month and was never really the same player. Injuries and a lack of production have slowed Jones his first two seasons. He needs to make a Mike Daniels type of leap in year three.

Josh Boyd: Is Josh Boyd Just a Guy (JAG)? Or is he young and athletic enough to shed his current JAG status in 2015?

Mike Pennel: It’d be a total Ted Thompson move to enter training camp with Pennel as the top option at nose tackle — causing every Packers fan to scream, yell and panic — before the 2014 undrafted rookie free agent has a breakout season. I doubt Thompson will go that route, and I’m not sure Pennel is good enough for a breakout season, but I do think he can provide necessary depth up front.

Luther Robinson/Bruce Gaston/Khyri Thronton: If one of these three emerges as a contributor, I’ll be happy.

B.J. Raji: Expectations were high that Raji was going to bounce back last season. Then he got hurt and those hopes ended. In a perfect world, Raji returns and plugs up the middle of the Packers d-line like a 340-pound former first-round pick should. But let’s not forget that Raji was awful the second half of 2013. If Raji is back with the Packers, will we be getting the version of Raji that splits double teams and regularly stakes out territory in the other team’s backfield? Or will we be getting the version of Raji that ends up on the ground far more often than a 340-pound guy should?

Letroy Guion: Let this be a lesson to the younger readers of ALLGBP.com: If you just had a nice season where you exceeded expectations, and there’s buzz about the team you’re playing for offering you a multi-year contract extension, don’t drive around with a bunch of weed, cash and a gun in your truck. Guion’s arrest might actually end up working in the Packers’ favor if it means they can bring him back on another one-year deal at a reduced rate.

So that’s where we are. Next let’s look at…

Where we want to be: Every season, the Packers have one or two position groups that look a little shaky on paper. In the salary cap era, having one or two position groups labeled as “shaky” before the season starts is actually pretty good. Most teams have at least three. Anyway, the Packers stock their roster with young talent and count on that young talent to step up and shore up whatever doubts we have about that position group. The defensive line very well could be that “shaky” position group once training camp starts. Will players like Jones, Pennel, Boyd, Robinson/Gaston/Thronton or Raji and Guion step up and alleviate our fears? We’ll see.  

How do we get there?

If Thompson doesn’t bring back Raji or Guion, and if he’s not confident in the younger players on his roster improving enough to make a difference, look for the GM to draft at least one big d-lineman.

Or maybe Thompson will just sign Ndomukong Suh.


Ted Thompson Green Bay Packers 2014 Evaluation and Report Card

Packers GM Ted Thompson

Packers GM Ted Thompson

1) Introduction:  Like the team he put together, Ted Thompson didn’t get off to that great of a start this season. Top draft pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix couldn’t even crack the starting lineup out of training camp. Mid-round picks Corey Bradford and Khyri Thornton looked like busts from the get-go. Late-round pick Jared Abbrederis blew out his knee. Corey Linsley looked like a short-armed powerhouse who didn’t have the mobility to play center in the NFL.

Thompson finally dipped into free agency, but even those moves looked iffy at first. Julius Peppers was old and Letroy Guion was hurt all of training camp.

By the end of the season, however, the Packers front office once again looked like geniuses. The majority of Thompson’s moves worked out, and the Packers should remain in contention for the foreseeable future.

2) Profile:

Ted Thompson

  • Age: 62
  • Born: 1/17/1953 in Atlanta, Texas
  • Height: 6’1″
  • Weight: 220
  • College: Southern Methodist
  • Rookie Year: 1975
  • NFL Experience: 10 years as a player, 23 years as a scout and front office executive

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Get the Packers over the hump. The Packers have been good for most of Thompson’s tenure, culminating with a Super Bowl win in 2010. Since then, however, the Packers haven’t been able to get over the postseason hump and get back to the big game. Injuries, combined with a glaring roster weakness here or there, have sent the Packers home early. With a new draft class in tow and a couple of outside free agents on the roster, this was the year the Packers were supposed to get back to the Super Bowl.

4) Season highlights/low-lights: Seeing this rookie class develop is one obvious highlight. Clinton-Dix, Linsley, Richard Rodgers and Davante Adams improved during the season and appear to have high ceilings. After a dismal start, free agent Letroy Guion came around. So did Julius Peppers — in a big way.

The Packers are also sitting well with the salary cap. With a few minor roster adjustments, they should have the cap space to bring back both Randall Cobb and Bryan Bulaga, and maybe even add a second- or third-tier free agent, if necessary.

A lowlight that didn’t get covered much was the Packers lack of punch in the kick return department. Dujuan Harris was ineffective. And, of course, the Packers were again weak at inside linebacker with A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones. Unfortunately, that’s become a yearly tradition.

5) Contribution to the overall team success:  Thompson is the reason Aaron Rodgers quarterbacks the Packers. He’s also the reason the Packers are never in salary cap hell while still fielding a Super Bowl contender every season. Yes, Thompson takes a lot of grief from fans for not signing free agents and playing things a little too conservatively. Sometimes, he deserves some of that grief. Sometimes.

Overall, Thompson is one of the best general managers in football and 2014 was one of his best teams.

6) Contributions in the playoffs: Thompson might be the one person in the Packers organization who doesn’t deserve any blame for what happened in Seattle. I’ll go to my grave saying the Packers were the best team in the NFL in 2014.

Season Report Card (Coaches Grades):

(A) Level of expectations met during the season

(A) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(N/A) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  A

Mike McCarthy Green Bay Packers 2014 Evaluation and Report Card

Mike McCarthy

Mike McCarthy

1) Introduction:  Mike McCarthy has one of the best jobs in the world. He coaches the Green Bay Packers, a team with a storied history, a MVP quarterback, a solid front office and no big-ego owner muddling in football business. It’s obvious that McCarthy knows he has one of the best jobs in the world. He’s taken all the tools provided to him and turned them into a Super Bowl win, multiple division titles and a string of playoff appearances. But even the greatest jobs have their dark days. Whispers about McCarthy’s sometimes questionable playcalling and game management in the postseason have grown louder since winning Super Bowl XLV. Those whispers turned to all-out screaming after McCarthy and the Packers choked away the NFC title game this season.

2) Profile:

Michael John McCarthy

  • Age: 51
  • Born: 11/10/1963, in Pittsburgh, PA
  • Rookie Year: 2006
  • NFL Head Coaching Experience: 9 years

Biography and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Same as every season: get to the Super Bowl. At the very least, earn a playoff win over a quality opponent — something that hadn’t happened since winning the 2010 Super Bowl (beating the Fighting Joe Webbs doesn’t count as quality). After opening up the playbook in the second half during a divisional round win over Dallas, McCarthy got that quality postseason victory. Then all of that goodwill was torched to ground during the final 4 minutes of the Meltdown in Seattle.

4) Season Highlights/Lowlights:  Let’s not beat around the bush. The lowlight of McCarthy’s season — hell, of his entire career — was Seattle. That NFC Championship loss will remain a black mark on his coaching record as long as he’s coaching. Just like the rest of his team and his coaching staff, McCarthy made several blunders that cost the Packers a shot at the Super Bowl.

But let’s also be fair: before the blowup in Seattle, 2014 was another outstanding season for the head coach. Division titles, postseason appearances and playoff wins don’t come easily. McCarthy always has the Packers in the hunt, even when the going gets a tough due to injuries, missed opportunities, bad calls or whatever.

5) Contribution to the overall team success:  McCarthy outcoached Bill Belichick to beat the Patriots. He moved Clay Matthews inside to rescue a drowning run defense. After the offense looked lost early in the season, he incorporated some new formations and wrinkles that got everything clicking again. Most important, McCarthy was his usual even-keeled, yet authoritative self through all the ups and downs of a football season.

No panic moves. No bold declarations. No yelling for the sake of yelling. Just good, solid coaching to get his team where he wanted them to be.

6) Contributions in the playoffs:  Do we have to cover everything from the Seattle game again? No, we don’t. So, I’m not going to. McCarthy was too conservative and contributed to an overall total team collapse. Period. End of story. Moving on.

7) Intangibles: All of us at ALLGBP.com would like to extend our condolences to the entire McCarthy family on the death of Mike’s brother in the days following the NFC title game. Yes, we’re often critical of players and coaches in our writing. Sometimes we even take a few cheap shots. But all of us understand that the coaches and players who make up the Green Bay Packers have lives outside of the time they’re on our television screen or game-planning for the next opponent. Mike McCarthy seems like a good man. I’m proud to have him as the coach of my favorite football team.

Season Report Card (Coaches Grades):

(B) Level of expectations met during the season

(B+) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(D) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade: B

Addendum: This evaluation was written before McCarthy announced that he is giving up play calling in order to devote more attention to other areas of the team. I’ve always thought McCarthy was a solid play-caller, who, like most play callers, has his moments of ineptitude. But if he thinks giving up playcalling is what’s best for the team, good on him for doing it. The move (if, in fact, it was 100 percent McCarthy’s decision) also shows that McCarthy isn’t going to let his ego get in the way of doing what he thinks is best for the team. I know if I was a head coach who called plays, I’d never give it up unless ordered to do so. My big ego would want my share of the credit when the offense rolled to another season of success. The fact that McCarthy was able to let go of playcalling says a lot about what kind of coach, and what type of person, he is.

Shawn Slocum Green Bay Packers 2014 Evaluation and Report Card

Packers special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum.


1) Introduction:  Unlike Dom Capers, Packers special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum did not have a bounceback season. The Packers are a patient organization, rarely quick to fire a coach or cut a player on a whim. However, Slocum’s time very well may be up in Green Bay. The Packers have had more bad seasons on special teams than good under Slocum. And 2014 might have been the worst.

2) Profile:

Shawn Slocum

  • Age: 49
  • Born: 2/21/1965, in Lake Charles, LA
  • NFL Coaching Experience: 9 years

Biography and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Don’t be the weak link. We knew the Packers offense would be tough to stop. We thought the defense had a shot at being better thanks to a few new players. Special teams? It’s never been a strength for the Packers. We all kind of hoped it could hover around average and not cost the team important games.

4) Season Highlights/Lowlights:  Nobody had Micah Hyde pegged as a dangerous punt returner when he entered into the league, but he had a few nice returns this season and seemed to improve. Mason Crosby also had a great season, knocking down a big field goal late in the NFC Championship.

Now for the lowlights. Well, just about everything else was a lowlight. Seven blocked field goals. A 75-yard punt return TD at Buffalo. A fake field goal that resulted in a TD in the NFC title game. Botching an onside kick later in that same game. A kick return game that never got going. A punter that tanked as the weather turned cold. It was ugly.

5) Contribution to the overall team success:  Well…I suppose we have to give Slocum some credit for Hyde’s progression and Crosby’s big season, right?

6) Contributions in the playoffs:  Cheering loudly on Hyde’s nice punt return against the Seahawks. That’s about all I can think of.

7) Intangibles: Ron Zook was brought in to give Slocum some help leading the special teams unit. It didn’t work.

Season Report Card (Coaches Grades):

(D-) Level of expectations met during the season

(D-) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(F) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade: F

ADDENDUM: This evaluation was written before Slocum was fired by the Packers. Obviously, I agree with the decision to let Slocum go. But so far his replacement, Ron Zook, has really put his foot in his mouth. When asked what went wrong with the special teams in 2014, Zook said “there’s 12 plays that were not good.” Um, wow. Twelve bad special teams plays is almost one bad special teams play per game. That’s a ridiculously high number, yet Zook seems to think 12 bad special teams plays is just a bad bounce here or there. Zook was also asked what will be different about the special teams under him instead of Slocum. Zook said he didn’t know. “Hopefully, we’re a little more lucky than what happened to Shawn at times,” Zook said.

There ya have it. Zook’s new strategy for fixing the special teams: cross your fingers that the unit’s luck improves. Hopefully Zook is a good special teams coach, but he gets an “F” in the offseason interviews category.

Dom Capers 2014 Report Card – Packers Grades

dom capers

Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers

1) Introduction:  Finally given a defense that wasn’t ravaged by injuries, Dom Capers silenced a few of his critics (at least for now) and helped the Packers defense take a major step forward in 2014. Too bad few people will remember it after the longtime defensive coordinator went into a conservative shell in Seattle and contributed to the Packers blowing their chance at the Super Bowl.

2) Profile:

Dom Capers

  • Age: 64
  • Born: 8/7/1950, in Cambridge, OH
  • NFL Coaching Experience: 29 years

Biography and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Don’t get fired during the bye week. I think most people had their fill of Capers before the 2014 season kicked off. They were sick of watching the offense march up and down the field, only to see defensive collapses fail to pick up the slack if the offense struggled in the postseason, or cancel out whatever success the offense had.

Capers’ defenses seemed outmatched, ill-equipped to tackle, and unable to make the necessary adjustments to cover the middle of the field and handle misdirection plays.

All of that improved during 2014. The Packers didn’t grow into a dominant defense, but they became pretty damn good.

4) Season Highlights/Lowlights:  I really liked what the defense did in the second half of week four against the Bears. Chicago torched the Packers in the first half, then Ha Ha Clinton-Dix stopped Martellus Bennett just short of the goal-line at the end of the half, and the defense seemed to steadily make progress the rest of the season.

When the Packers were trying to lock down home-field throughout the playoffs, the defense did its part, holding their final three opponents to 20 points or less.

Lowlights include a failed attempt at a hybrid version of the 4-3 defense that was scrapped after a season-opening loss in Seattle. The other obvious lowlight came, you guessed it, in Seattle during the NFC title game. With the Packers’ defense dominating, Capers went conservative, only rushing two and sitting back in a soft zone on a critical third-and-long play in the third quarter. The Seahawks converted, and it was all downhill from there.

5) Contribution to the overall team success:  For a while, Capers’ defense was rolling like it was designed to roll. When Aaron Rodgers and the offense gives Capers a lead, he starts sending all sorts of blitzes, creating chaso and forcing turnovers. A lot of the Packers midseason blowouts happened because Capers was so aggressive and relentless when the Packers were in front.

Capers also helped his flailing run defense by asking Sam Shields and Tramon Williams to work solo on the outside while Morgan Burnett crept closer to the line in run support. That, and moving Clay Matthews inside, helped patch up the leaky run defense.

6) Contributions in the playoffs:  For 56 minutes of the NFC championship game, Capers looked like a genius. Then he got conservative on the aforementioned third down, the defense collapsed late in the fourth quarter, and…..God, I’m sick of writing about that game.

7) Intangibles: For as aggressive and innovative as Capers is, he has a tendency to turn conservative at just the wrong times. When crunch time hit against Seattle, Mike McCarthy went conservative. I think he may have learned a lesson and won’t do it again. Capers? I’m not sure he’ll every pick up on that lesson.

Season Report Card (Coaches Grades):

(A-) Level of expectations met during the season

(B) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(C-) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade: B

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

I’m currently reading Bruce Feldman’s newest book called “The QB: The Making of Modern Quarterbacks.” It’s a good book so far with excellent insight into today’s quarterbacks, including some nice tidbits on Aaron Rodgers (and even a few older stories about Brett Favre).

But there is a prevailing theme throughout the book so far that bugs me. The book’s main focus has been on ex-NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer and his work with the Elite 11 quarterback competition. Dilfer seems like an interesting and thoughtful guy, but he really hammers on something he’s labeled as “dude qualities” in quarterbacks.

“Dude qualities” refers to the “it” factor in a quarterback. What is the “it” factor? That’s my problem with Dilfer’s “dude quality” obsession. There’s no way to define “it” factor or “dude quality.” The whole concept seems like something else for athlete trolls like Skip Bayless to harp about instead of an actual concept to truly evaluate how good a quarterback is.

A quarterback seems to get labeled as having “dude qualities” when he achieves a certain level of success. After a couple of big wins or a strong performance during an Elite 11 drill, the quarterback is suddenly viewed as something more than just a good quarterback with a strong, accurate arm, a sense for the game and the work ethic to pull it all together.

It’s often said in the book that a quarterback with “dude qualities” takes over a room when he enters. Ummm…..ok. What does that mean exactly? Typically, everyone wants to hang out with the stud quarterback. Does he take over that room because he fired the winning touchdown pass in the fourth quarter? Or because he has some unexplainable “it” factor aura that draws others towards him?

If Aaron Rodgers is the longsnapper instead of the MVP quarterback, would people like Dilfer still marvel at his “dude qualities” and his ability to “take over a room?” Probably not, because Rodgers is the longsnapper. Phrases like “dude qualities” and “it” factor are part of the manufactured narrative that surrounds the discussion of well-known and visible quarterbacks, not obscure longsnappers.

I’m not arguing that personality and certain character traits don’t play a role in quarterbacking. Like with any profession, you want good people doing the job. And certain jobs require people with the personality traits to match the physical talents and mental requirements of the position.

But I feel like all this talk about “dude qualities” and “it” factor is just a distraction, something to make us seem smarter than we actually are when talking quarterbacks. Football isn’t the easiest game to understand and quarterback is one of the more complicated positions in sports. I think we come up with things like “dude quality” and “it” factor to try and simplify it as much as we can. We think we sound smart when we utter those phrases, but in reality, our knowledge is regressing.

Coming up with subjective quarterback qualities might simplify things a bit, but it doesn’t do much to help us understand why certain quarterbacks are better than others.

Packers News, Notes and Links

  • What should the Packers do with Tramon Williams? I still think he can play, but he tailed off a bit down the stretch. Is that a sign of age and declining skills? Or just a handful of inevitable plays where a corner whose asked to man-up on talented wide receivers gets beat? Hopefully Ted Thompson and the Packers have a better handle on those questions than I do and make the right decision.
  • What was your favorite Brad Jones moment in Green Bay? The Packers released Jones on Friday afternoon. Jones was bad the last two seasons. Very bad. But overall, for a 7th round draft pick, he gave the Packers some decent value in 2009, 2010 and then as a fill-in inside linebacker in 2012.
  • Both Richard Rodgers and Davante Adams played better later in the season. Sam Barrington also steadily improved. If you want to get excited about the Packers in 2015, imagine those three players continuing their improvement, and maybe even seeing one of them make a Mike Daniels type of jump from “Hey, this guy is playing better” to “Holy crap! This guy is REALLY good!”
  • Ted Thompson spoke at the NFL Combine and said absolutely nothing, per usual (although, he did open and close his remarks with a few good one-liners). McCarthy also spoke and didn’t offer much that we didn’t already know.

Non Packers links and other Nonsense

  • If you’re unfamiliar with ISIS, what they represent, what they want, and why they’re different from Al Qaeda, read this piece from the Atlantic.
  • “Parks and Recreation” is one of my all-time favorite sitcoms. Sadly, it’s final episode is Tuesday. The Packers would win the Super Bowl every season if they hired Ron Swanson as head coach.
  • The Vikings signed an ex-Packer and the Timberwolves traded for a former star now well past his prime. In other words, it was a typical week in the Minnesota sports scene.
  • Oscars predictions: Best picture, “Boyhood.” Best actor: Michael Keaton, “Birdman.” Best actress: Reese Witherspoon, “Wild.” Number of times some dimwitted celebrity will lecture us about a political topic or social cause they know next to nothing about: 8.

Mark Murphy 2014 Green Bay Packers Evaluation and Report Card

Packers team president Mark Murphy

Packers team president Mark Murphy

1) Introduction: I’m not entirely sure how I’m supposed to “grade” Packers team president Mark Murphy, but I’m going to try. Do I watch film of his speeches and critique based on the number of stammers and stutters? Do I deduct half a grade if his hand-shake while schmoozing with league officials isn’t firm enough? What about how he treats his secretary and other team staff? A positive grade for saying “please” before issuing an order? A negative grade for putting an appointment on his own personal Outlook calendar, but forgetting to put it on the office-wide shared Outlook calendar?

2) Profile:

Mark Murphy

  • Age: 59
  • Born: 7/13/1955 in Jacksonville, FL
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 218
  • College: Colgate
  • Rookie Year: 1977
  • NFL Experience: 8 years as a player, 8 years as Packers team president

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Don’t completely embarrass the entire Packers organization. That’s all us fans want out of the higher-up team executives who aren’t involved in the day-to-day management of football operations, right? Don’t pull a Jerry Jones and take racy photos with young women that end up hitting the internet. don’t say racist things like Marge Schott used to. Don’t do anything Dan Snyder does. As usual, Murphy kept his pants on, his mouth shut and didn’t dabble in football operations this season. In other words, he vastly exceeded our expectations.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: But let’s not give Murphy an “A+” just yet. Oh no, Packers fans have high expectations. That’ll happen when you had a man like Bob Harlan running the team in the 90s and rescuing it from the depths of the NFL. You gotta do more than just avoid controversy and embarrassment to win us over. And here is where Murphy struggles. Exhibit A: The Brett Favre Packers hall of fame induction ceremony should be held at a large venue with tickets sold to the public. By only allowing corporate suits and other big-wig types access to the event, Murphy and the Packers are 1) missing a big opportunity to make even more money off the event and 2) thumbing their nose at Packers fans who are dying to see Favre’s “official” return to Green Bay. Murphy also let the G-Force debacle drag on for far too long before finally killing it in favor of #GetLoudLambeau at the end of 2014. I also get the sense that Murphy isn’t very tuned into just how passionate Packers fans are. Too often, it feels like fan interaction or gameday experience types of things have been planned by some overpriced out-of-state consulting firm that thinks Green Bay is like any other town that’ll go for whatever works at Madison Square Garden during Knicks games.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Kudos for Murphy for getting contract extensions done for both general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy this season. It’s not easy maintaining a healthy productive working relationship between a team owner/president, general manager, head coach and superstar quarterback. That’s a lot of egos to manage. A team president has to know his role and have confidence in the football people he’s hired to do the job. Murphy has done that, and the Packers are better off because of it. Can you imagine having to deal with a mettling owner like Snyder or some upstart who got rich off the dot.com boom overseeing the Packers and thinking he knew more about which right tackle to draft than Ted Thompson? I shudder just thinking about it.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: They never show Murphy watching a playoff game, or any game, from his luxury suite. It’d be nice if they showed Murphy on TV every now and then. You can tell a lot about a man based on how he watches a football game? Does he sit by himself and focus solely on the game, ignoring the rich guests that surround him in his suite? Does he slap backs and shake hands with the other CEOs in the suite, ignoring the game altogether? Does he get drunk and say uncomfortable thing as the game wears on? Does he act like any other fan and give high fives and man hugs after the Packers score a big touchdown? These are things Packers fans deserve to know.

7) Intangibles: Murphy needs to book some better concerts at Lambeau. Enough with the Kenny Chesney and pop country/hick hop garbage. Bring in AC/DC, Metallica or whatever band wrote and performed the “Bears Still Suck” song.

Season Report Card:

(A+) Don’t embarrass the entire organization and don’t mettle in football operations that you know nothing about.

(D+) Properly balance giving the fans what they want and appeasing rich corporate sponsors.

(C+) The Packers are better off because Mark Murphy is the team president

Overall Grade:  B-

Josh Boyd 2014 Report Card – Packers Player Grades

Packers DE Josh Boyd

1) Introduction: There were a few people — not many, but a few — who were holding out hope that Josh Boyd would take a Mike Daniels type of leap in his second season. I did not set the bar that high for Boyd, but he did get better. A little bit better, anyway.

2) Profile:

Josh Boyd

  • Age: 25
  • Born: 8/3/1989 in Philadelphia, MS
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 310
  • College: Mississippi St.
  • Rookie Year: 2013
  • NFL Experience: 2 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season: Improve. As I mentioned above, Boyd did get better, but not by a whole lot. He went from below average to about average. From replaceable, to maybe he’s worth keeping around. That’s improvement…I guess.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Boyd showed up in the Buccaneers backfield several times in week 16. He also had a couple of moments in the wild-card win over Dallas, forcing DeMarco Murray to change directions in the backfield. When Datone Jones went down with an injury in October, Boyd held his own as Jones’ replacement. I can’t think of any specific lowlights, but overall, it has to be a lowlight that Boyd never really made much of a leap in 2014. Sure, expectations weren’t that high, but significant improvement from Boyd would have helped the Packers figure out their run defense much sooner than they did.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: He stayed healthy and never screwed up too badly. Sure, every team needs a Josh Boyd up front, but “he stayed healthy and never screwed up too badly” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement. He’s quicker than you’d envision a 305-pounder to be, but I’m not sure he’s got enough to be a player the Packers can count on long term.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Boyd performed in the playoffs about like he did in the regular season: He was just kind of there.

7) Intangibles: Letroy Guion used his above average quickness to carve out a nice spot for himself on this year’s defensive line. With both Guion and B.J. Raji hitting free agency, perhaps I’m writing off what Boyd and his quick twitch could bring to this team next season. He’s still young. Let’s see what he shows in year three.

Season Report Card (Player Grades):

(C) Level of expectations met during the season

(D+) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(C) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  C-

Letroy Guion 2014 Report Card – Packers Player Grades

Packers DL Letroy Guion

Packers DL Letroy Guion

1) Introduction: Usually, it’s the Vikings who end up signing ex-Packers players once their time in the green and gold is up. Last offseason, the Packers decided to see what might happen if they signed a Vikings player. After a rough start, Letroy Guion came around and ended up being more than just another body to throw inside.

2) Profile:

Letroy Guion

  • Age: 27
  • Born: 6/21/1987 in Starke, FL
  • Height: 6’4″
  • Weight: 315
  • College: Florida St.
  • Rookie Year: 2008
  • NFL Experience: 7 years

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Athletic depth up front. The Packers were moving B.J. Raji back to nose tackle full time. Guion was supposed to back him up and possibly provide a little bit of athleticism inside, when necessary. Guion ended up in the starting lineup after Raji’s injury and played much better than your typical backup.

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: Guion looked like a complete disaster early on. He missed most of training camp with an injury, then got mauled in week one against Seattle. “Here we go again,” most Packers fans thought. “Another season of having to watch a swiss-cheese defense.” But as September became October and October turned to November, Guion got better. He was adequate against the run and provided the athleticism rushing the quarterback the Packers hoped for when they signed him.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: I credit the majority of the Packers’ improvement on run defense to moving Clay Matthews inside, but Guion deserves credit as well. According to Pro Football Focus, Guion’s total run grade was a paltry negative-10.1, but he had a stretch in the middle of the season — right when the Packers turned their run defense around — where he was very effective against the run.

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Guion didn’t do much in the playoffs. Perhaps playing full time for 16 regular season games wore him down?

7) Intangibles: Guion had some of the smoothest dance moves during sack celebrations I have ever seen. Aaron Rodgers also was quite fond of Guion, even going so far as to call him one of his favorite teammates. Here’s hoping Guion keeps on dancing in a Packers uniform next season.

Season Report Card (Player Grades):

(B+) Level of expectations met during the season

(C+) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(D) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  B-

ADDENDUM: The report card you just read was written before Guion got arrested in Florida with nearly a pound of marijuana, over $190,000 in cash and a gun. Not a smart move for a guy who has been publicly praised by Rodgers and was possibly on the verge of a multi-year contract. His time in Green Bay may very well be over now. Then again, if the Packers are thin up front as training camp approaches, the price to re-sign Guion just got a whole lot lower…

Mike Daniels 2014 Report Card – Packers Player Grades

1) Introduction:  Mention the name Mike Daniels outside of Green Bay and you’ll probably get blank stares. But Packers fans know him, and they know him well. Without the efforts of Daniels this season, the Packers would have had one of the weakest defensive lines in the league.

2) Profile:

Mike Daniels

  • Age: 25
  • Born: 5/5/1989 in Stratford, NJ
  • Height: 6’0″
  • Weight: 305
  • College: Iowa
  • Rookie Year: 2012
  • NFL Experience: 3

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Anchor the defensive line. With B.J. Raji’s season ending early and the rest of the line filled with unproven talent, a lot was resting on Daniels’ shoulders. While Daniels didn’t explode and catapult himself to a John Randle level of success, he was damn good, and met the lofty expectations set for him

4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: According to Pro Football Focus, Daniels graded positively in 13 of the Packers’ 18 games, highlighted by a dominating effort against New England and a late sack of Tom Brady. It seems like forever ago, but with the Packers trailing the Jets 21-3 early and facing an 0-2 start to the season, Daniels really came to life and helped the defense get back on track in that comeback win. Some people might point to the Buffalo loss as Daniels’ lowlight. He really didn’t do much in that game, but overall, the defense was good that entire contest. To me, Daniels’ real lowlight came in the NFC title game. A little pressure from Daniels during the Packers’ collapse might have slowed things down a bit. Instead, he was nowhere to be found.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Without Daniels, this very well could have turned into another “Fire Capers” season. Daniels wasn’t getting a ton of pass-rushing chances early on, but that changed in November/December, and Daniels capitalized. Daniels’ relentless effort combined with his ability to stake out territory in the other team’s backfield and alter plays was indispensable for Capers and the D in 2014. Hopefully Daniels continues flying under the radar. I like it when he blows up a play, and fans of the other team are like, “Mike Daniels? Who the hell is that guy?”

6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: God, I’m sick of writing about the playoff meltdown. I’d rather watch a Nickelback music video or darn socks instead of continually re-visiting whatever the hell happened in Seattle. But writing about the Packers is sometimes a dirty job, and somebody’s gotta do it. So, anyway, like every other player on the field, Daniels disappeared the final 4 minutes of the NFC Championship game. Yeah, he was solid against Dallas, but one play — just one play — from one of the Packers’ big-time players would have been nice late vs. Seattle.

7) Intangibles: Like Packers fans, Daniels was obviously fed up with the perception that the Packers defense was soft. He made this clear with some tough-guy talk during the preseason where he vowed the Packers defense would be better and threatened to beat up (metaphorically beat up, anyway) teammates who didn’t up their intensity. Daniels backed up all that talk with his stellar play. I’m usually not someone who’s impressed by bravado or sensational quotes players give to the press, but it was nice to see Daniels bring a little attitude. The calm and reasoned approach most in the Packers organization used when addressing the defense was getting tiresome.

Season Report Card (Player Grades):

(A-) Level of expectations met during the season

(A) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(C+) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  A-