Category: Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers Preseason: Why You Should Watch

Preseason marks the return to the hallowed grounds.

The games don’t count but they are still important.

Preseason football can be a drag. We are happy to see the games return after a long offseason, yet almost immediately we long for the regular season. Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson will not be on the field much if at all. Players are not familiar with their teammates and ball security issues tend to dominate. Play can be sloppy and the outcomes don’t matter. So why even bother watching these exhibition games? Here are a few reasons.

the rookies

The NFL draft is almost an American holiday by now. As our favorite teams announce their picks we begin to have visions of these players making plays on the gridiron. Preseason is our first chance to see those visions become reality. Vince Biegel and Montravious Adams are out with injuries but Kevin King and Josh Jones are healthy. Expectations should always be tempered with rookies, and King had a couple rough moments in the first preseason game. We hopefully will see some splash plays from the pair before the month is over.

Running back is a position to watch this August. Three rookie runners are vying for spots on the roster. Jamaal Williams seems to be the leader, but Devante Mays and Aaron Jones will receive plenty of opportunities. Which of these runners will separate themselves and become a big part of the offense in 2017? Ty Montgomery is the starter but the others will be needed for the Pack to be successful.

Preseason position battles

Ted Thompson will have no choice but to cut one or two good receivers. Beyond the locks like Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams there appear to be seven players fighting for four spots. Trevor Davis and Deangelo Yancey made nice plays against Philadelphia that stood out. Jeff Janis scored a touchdown and Max McCaffrey was targeted numerous times. Have you heard of Michael Clark? An intriguing prospect who also scored against the Eagles. The Packers simply won’t have room on the roster for all these players and competition will be fierce.

The cornerback and safety positions feature a lot of depth behind the starters. The corners are especially interesting, as any number of players could move into a starting role with a solid camp. Also worth watching is QB Brett Hundley, he isn’t going to take Rodgers job, but a solid showing could land him a starters role elsewhere. Packers fans should be used to this by now, Mark Brunell, Matt Hasselbeck, and Aaron Brooks are players who proved their value in Green Bay before starting with other teams.

it’s football

Be honest here, you want to watch football even if it is preseason. Heck, use it as a tune up for yourself. If you haven’t grilled in awhile fine tune your skills so you are ready for Week 1. Practice some clever insults for the officials that will make your friends laugh. Enjoy the return of football, the team is on the field again and will be until February if all goes well!

 

The Other Guys: Packers 2017 Free Agency Review

The Packers did not make the big splash, but they still helped themselves in Free Agency.

The longstanding criticism of Packers GM Ted Thompson has been his unwillingness to dip into free agency. While some of this criticism is unwarranted there are instances where it would have been helpful to look at available veterans. In the NFC championship loss in Atlanta the Packers had 14 rookies on their active roster. This inexperience can be dangerous in big games and it has burned the Packers the last several seasons.

The Packers faced a lot of uncertainty heading into the 2017 off-season. Several familiar faces departed for other teams. It appears Thompson finally reached a point where he realized the roster could not be filled solely through the draft. The Packers added some quality depth to the roster and were prudent in doing so. Here is a look at some guys who will help when injuries inevitably hit.

DEFENSIVE DEPTH

A vast majority of the defensive additions were made through the draft. The Packers added speed and versatility to the defensive backfield in Kevin King and Josh Jones. However they made two depth signings that could come in handy. Davon House returned after a two year stay in Jacksonville to compete for a spot at corner. It was obvious that Cornerback needed to be addressed given the struggles of Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins last season. House is far from a sure thing, but he is an option with some upside. Considering his meager contract that signing could pay dividends.

I really like the signing of Ricky Jean Francois. He has been a useful NFL player for a while now and should provide key depth in the defensive line rotation. Adding Francois should allow the defensive linemen should remain fresh deep into the 4th quarter.

NEW ELEMENTS ON OFFENSE

Tight End is a position the team clearly wants to emphasize in 2017. The Packers were a different offense when they had Jared Cook on the field. Cook will not be back but the Packers look as strong at that position as they have in years. While he may not accumulate the statistics he did during his time in Chicago, I expect Martellus Bennett to be very effective working with Aaron Rodgers. Lance Kendricks has had an inconsistent career but should be a more than capable second Tight End. He also offers insurance in case of an injury to Bennett. A big plus with both of these players is they are willing blockers. With both on the field the defense will have a tough time predicting whether a run or pass is coming.

REPLACING A MAINSTAY

The biggest lost the Packers suffered was T.J. Lang departing in free agency. There was no one available in free agency or the draft who could come in and be the same player Lang has been the last half decade. It was a smart move nonetheless to acquire Jahri Evans when he became available. While no longer the Pro Bowl player he was in his prime, Evans still provided a solid season for the Saints in 2016. At 33 he should have enough left in the tank to fill the void for this season. Players at that age always carry some risk, but it was a weak draft class for Guards. Evans also provides more experience and consistency than the guys currently on the roster.

CONCLUSION

Ted Thompson is fairly predictable at this stage of his career, but on paper this looks like one of his better off-seasons. The Packers lost more players than they usually do which could be problematic, but Thompson added solid depth players. Thompson will still receive the maximum amount of compensatory picks in 2018. I am also a fan of Thompson’s strategy in the 2017 draft. Between the rookies and new veteran faces there should be quite a few battles for roster spots in training camp. Hopefully this results in a stronger 2017 Green Bay Packers.

 

 

NFL Mock Draft 2017: Derek Barnett and Mike Williams Moving Up

By: Bill Tewes

The NFL Mock Draft season is heating up. At Brew City Sports Report, we took a different angle and did a collaborative mock draft. Each of us chose three teams and alternated picks to get a unique twist on the traditional mock drafting process. Take a look at our NFL mock draft below as we discuss in depth the top 10 picks and reveal the rest.

Here are how the teams were split up:

Bill: Chicago, Jacksonville, Cincinnati, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Detroit, Miami, Kansas City, Dallas.

Mark: San Francisco, Tennessee, Carolina, New Orleans (1), Philadelphia, Washington, Denver, New York Giants, Seattle, Green Bay, New Orleans (2).

Jim: Cleveland (1), New York Jets, LA Chargers, Cleveland (2), Arizona, Tennessee (2), Tampa Bay, Oakland, Houston, Pittsburgh, Atlanta.

The top two picks ended up being Garrett and Thomas, which is par for the course with many experts. It seems almost too good to be true for Cleveland to pass up on a cornerstone defensive piece such as Garrett. The 49ers have expressed interest in trading out of the two spot, but they can also use a defensive player and their defensive line is essentially non-existent aside from DeForest Buckner, their 7th overall pick last year.

The Chicago Bears are allegedly interested in trading out of the third overall spot. Teams are fielding offers after seeing what  Tennessee received for trading out of the top spot in the 2016 draft. We have Chicago taking Malik Hooker, to bolster their secondary and get a player who has a nose for the ball, but will need some time to mature. Chicago is a good fit as they are beginning to rebuild and will have plenty of time to get Hooker experience.

Jacksonville needs a defensive end and will happily take Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen. Although I personally think that Allen will be the first player to take a serious tumble down draft boards on opening night.

The Titans definitely have a huge conundrum with having two picks in the top 20. Taking into consideration that they have secondary needs and can also use a dynamic receiving option, our mock has them taking Mike Williams with their first pick and then selecting a cornerback at 18 in Marlon Humphrey.

The first big shakeup in the draft comes with the Jets at 6, taking tight end OJ Howard. In fact, Howard’s stock has been increasing and he would be the first tight end since Vernon Davis to be selected with the 6th overall pick (Davis was 6th in 2006). This pick makes a lot of sense because the Jets will be rebuilding for a few years and should not be hell-bent on over-drafting a QB so early in the draft. I could see them picking up a DeShone Kizer or perhaps a Davis Webb, who is moving up draft boards, in the second round.

The Chargers nab one of the better talents, as Jamal Adams falls to them at pick 7. Most noteworthy is Adam’s leadership skills, which could end up moving him up, ahead of the likes of Hooker and other defensive backs.

Leonard Fournette, this draft’s version of Ezekiel Elliott, is taken by the Carolina Panthers. Carolina can use a running back to compliment an aging Jonathan Stewart. I could also see Christian McCaffrey landing in Carolina and giving Cam Newton a dynamic receiving option out of the backfield.

Another intriguing top 10 pick comes in at 9th overall with Derek Barnett. Barnett has all of the tools to crack into the top five in a really deep draft for defensive lineman. During Barnett’s freshman year, he tallied 10 sacks and 20.5 tackles for a loss. at 6’3″ 260, he ran a 4.88 40 and some mocks have Barnett as high as top 3.

The Green Bay Packers get homegrown hero T.J. Watt after an explosive season at linebacker for Wisconsin. Watt fills an immediate need for Green Bay at linebacker and gives them flexibility in moving Matthews inside or keeping him at his traditional spot of outside linebacker. The obvious concern with Watt is sample size. But he is definitely an intriguing option and will be worth a shot if he is there at 29. Will be interesting to see what Thompson does come draft night.

Here is how the rest of the mock draft shaped up:

11. Marshon Lattimore CB- Buffalo

12. DeShaun Watson QB- Cleveland

13. Reuben Foster LB- Arizona

14. Gareon Conley CB- Philadelphia

15. Dalvin Cook RB- Indianapolis

16. John Ross WR- Baltimore

17. Haason Reddick LB- Washington

18. Marlon Humphrey CB- Tennessee

19. Taco Charlton DE- Tampa Bay

20. Christian McCaffrey RB- Denver

21. Caleb Brantley DT- Detroit

22. Ryan Ramczyk OT- Miami

23. David Njoku TE- New York Giants

24. Malik McDowell DE- Oakland

25. Patrick Mahomes QB- Houston

26. Kevin King CB- Seattle

27. Takkarist McKinley LB/DE- Kansas City

28. Jabrill Peppers S- Dallas

29. T.J. Watt LB- Green Bay

30. Corey Davis WR- Pittsburgh

31. Cam Robinson OT- Atlanta

32. Jarrad Davis LB- New Orleans

 

 

Green Bay Packers' Best Remaining Free Agency Options:

Johnathan Hankins could provide a Ryan Pickett-like anchor to the defense

By: Mark Prott

2017 NFL Free Agency has left many open lockers available in the home team’s locker room over at 1265 Lombardi Avenue. While as a fan I’m pleased with the resigning of Nick Perry, bringing back Davon House and the tight end additions of Martellus Bennett and Wisconsin’s own Lance Kendricks, there is no denying that the Packers thus far have lost a number of players who logged substantial meaningful snaps for them last year and enjoyed a good amount success in the past.

The departures of T.J. Lang, Micah Hyde, Jared Cook, and Eddie Lacy all come to mind. In all the above mentioned cases I believe the Packers’ front office made the right call to not overpay and match the market prices each player received, or in Cook’s case what he will receive.

However, NFL Free Agency is not over. Almost a week into free agency, there still remains valuable options out there that could help the Green Bay Packers offset the loss of and dare I say even improve their team heading into the 2017 NFL Draft. It all depends on how active General Manager Ted Thompson decides to be in the second and third waves of the NFL Free Agency Period.

With league wide salary cap space shrinking after the first week of massive contracts being doled out, it only makes sense that the contracts players receive now will be much more reasonable and team friendly, which is exactly what Ted Thompson likes. Let’s take a look at players out there who could fit in the Packers’ plans.

JOHNATHAN HANKINS: DL 

Still only 24 years old, the 6’2 320 pound Hankins is probably about as sure as a bet as anyone left on the free agency market to become a major contributor to whoever lands his services. Hankins is best known for his solid run defense but also is capable of providing some pass rush at defensive tackle as evidence by his 7 sack season in 2014. It’s difficult to not compare him to former Packer Ryan Pickett as both players are also Ohio State alums. Pickett proved to be one of Ted Thompson’s best free agency signings. Could Hankins be next? A starting 3 of Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark, and Johnathan Hankins in the defensive line sounds awfully nice to me. As the old saying goes, it all starts in the trenches.

ZACH BROWN: ILB

It bothers me that I have not heard any connection of Brown with the Packers in the free agency period. Coming off a 149 tackle 4 sack season in 2016 in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 scheme, Brown’s production is off the charts when compared to the likes of Jake Ryan, Blake Martinez, and Joe Thomas. Still only 27, and owner of a 4.50 second forty in the 2012 NFL Draft, Brown would bring much needed speed and play making ability to the middle of the Packers’ defense. What’s there not to like here?

CONNOR BARWIN: OLB

Barwin is another player that would make a lot of sense for the Packers. While it was time to move on from Julius Peppers, his 7.5 sacks of production needs to be replaced at the outside linebacker position. The 30 year old Barwin could fit the bill and would likely love to get back to playing 3-4 outside linebacker after being miscast in Philadelphia last season as a defensive end.

MORRIS CLAIBORNE: CB

While Claiborne carries a substantial amount of risk given his injury history and not so long ago label as a top 10 bust, there is no denying his talent and upside at only 27 years old would be appealing. By all reports he had a good year in 2016 for the Cowboys when he was on the field, which is something that cannot be said for any of the Packers’ cornerbacks in 2016.

ADRIAN PETERSON: RB

I’ll admit when reports surfaced that Eddie Lacy was signing with the Seahawks, my knee jerk reaction was that the Packers need to sign AP immediately. My emotions have now cooled but I’m still intrigued by Peterson. Yes, he is about to turn 32 years old and he did look awful in very limited playing time in 2016 but let us not forget that Peterson ran for 1,485 yards in 2015 when he was last healthy. And if there’s one guy to defy the odds at his position and be a successful running back into his 30s, I cannot think of anyone more likely than Peterson. Plus, how sweet would it be to make the 2018 Super Bowl held in Minnesota with Peterson sporting green and gold?

JAMAAL CHARLES: RB

Rumors are out there that the Packers could be a landing spot for Charles. I think it would be a struggle to find a player in recent years with worse injury luck than the 30 year old Charles. You almost have to think he could be due for a bounce back year free of major injury. If so, he could be a high upside signing which could add an extra electric dimension to the Packers’ backfield. Fun fact: Charles’ career 5.5 yards per carry average is best in NFL history for a running back. Not too shabby.

DEANDRE LEVY: ILB

Maybe it’s just the Wisconsin football homer in me but Deandre Levy has always been a player I wanted to see in the green and gold. I admire the passion he plays with and much like Jamaal Charles his last two seasons have been a total loss due to injury. So there’s obviously risk here, which is why a 1 year prove it deal would be what the Packers would be looking for in this case. Levy even has a believer in Lions GM Bob Quinn despite being released. “I think he can be the same player he was a couple years ago. It looks like to me, he was getting healthier and healthier as the weeks went on when he came back. That’s what we envision’’

NICK MANGOLD: C/G 

Report has surfaced that teams are interested in the recently released 33 year old former All-Pro center making the switch to Guard. Count the Packers among teams that should be interested if Mangold does indeed agree to make that switch. Mangold strikes me as the perfect 1-2 year veteran stopgap starter the Packers could use this year as they potentially draft their guard of the future in the upcoming draft.

DARRELLE REVIS: CB/S

All recent criminal charges have been dismissed stemming from Revis’ recent bar altercation. Add in his renewed desire to prove doubters wrong, the Packers’ documented interest in signing Revis in 2015, and the fact that the Packers sorely need another play-making veteran presence in the secondary and it’s easy to see that Revis starts to make a lot of sense. The veteran cornerback could be used much like Micah Hyde was last year and similar to how Capers employed Charles Woodson all over the field in the latter stages of his time in Green Bay.

OTHERS TO CONSIDER:  OLB Elvis Dumervil, RB LeGarrette Blount, CB Brandon Carr, CB Brandon Flowers, ILB Gerald Hodges, OLB Erik Walden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should Packers Ask Aaron Rodgers to Restructure?

Tom Brady restructured and the New England Patriots have been to two Super Bowls since

By: Bill Tewes

Another year goes by and it’s another year in which the Green Bay Packers will be watching the Super Bowl from the comfort of their homes. After the Packers ran into the buzzsaw that was the Atlanta Falcons, many questions are left unanswered as to how the Pack can right the ship and become a contender again.

A popular question in recent days, is whether or not the organization should ask Aaron Rodgers to restructure his contract, so that GM Ted Thompson can sign some top caliber free agent talent and give Rodgers a championship caliber team. Before we answer that, lets take a look at Green Bay’s cap situation heading into the 2017-2018 season.

Green Bay will head into the 2017 season with many difficult decisions that Thompson will have to make, as far as retaining some of his own players. Any Packers fan can tell you that Thompson typically favors his own guys and there has been some embarrassing examples of keeping his own draft picks too long (Brad Jones, AJ Hawk).

With the likely departure of Julius Peppers, Sam Shields, James Starks and most likely Letroy Guion, the Packers will free up over $20 million in cap space with those players off the books. Left guard T.J. Lang will be an interesting case, as he is certainly worth the money and is one helluva tough player. But injuries plagued him all last season and he departed the NFC Championship game with a foot injury. Peppers would be welcomed back with open arms, but only if he takes a veteran’s minimum deal.

In a meritocracy, hybrid linebacker/defensive end Datone Jones would have been gone about a season ago. There is slim to no chance that Thompson brings back Jones, as he has not performed to the caliber a first round pick warrants. Starks will also be gone after posting an atrocious 2.3 yards per carry and never coming back from a concussion sustained in a car accident.

One player, however, that does warrant a contract is linebacker Nick Perry. Perry looked like another disappointing bust following in the footsteps of his peer Jones, but Perry turned it up this past season totaling 11 sacks, a team high. According to Spotrac.com, Perry’s potential market value is in the 8.5 million per year range. I could see Perry fetching more than that on the open market to a team that is desperate for a linebacker. But I see Green Bay being that desperate team and getting a deal done with Perry. Two other players that should receive contracts are Tight End Jared Cook and Hybrid Safety Micah Hyde, as both will hit free agency, but played well enough to earn new contracts with the team.

The 2014 draft class is also something that the team will have to factor in when considering how much money they will be spending in free agency. Pro Bowl safety HaHa Clinton-Dix will most definitely get a contract extension, along with Davante Adams, who posted a turnaround season with 12 touchdowns and came up three yards short of 1,000 yards on the season.

Running back Eddie Lacy’s status with the team is up in the air, as the obvious weight concerns, injury concerns, the emergence of Ty Montgomery at running back and a loaded running back class in this year’s draft will put Lacy in the “prove it deal” category. It would be nice to have Lacy back for insurance purposes and the fact that he was averaging just over five yards a carry before his season was ended with an ankle injury.

With all this being said, Green Bay should be in the $35-40 million dollar range in cap space if the aforementioned cuts, cap rollover, as well as the cap going up to $163-$165 million (up from roughly $155 million in 2016). They will have plenty of money to play with in order to sign a couple players on the defensive side of the ball, adding crucial pieces they desperately need to get Aaron Rodgers another title on his mantle.

It would seem incredibly disingenuous to ask perhaps the best quarterback in all of football at the moment to restructure his contract. Rodgers is not even the highest paid quarterback in the league. Super Bowl bound and likely 2016 MVP winning QB Matt Ryan was the highest paid quarterback to start the 2016 season (Andrew Luck is now the highest paid) and took a team with a pretty average defense to the Super Bowl. The difference is that the Falcons added key free agents in Alex Mack (viewed as one of the best free agent signings this past offseason) as well as role players in Dwight Freeney, Courtney Upshaw and the speedy receiver Taylor Gabriel to compliment superstar Julio Jones.

Ted Thompson has absolutely no choice but to spend some of the cap money the team currently has. Rodgers has three years left on his current contract, which is set to expire at the end of the 2019 season. The only possible way Rodgers would restructure is if he was guaranteed a deal similar to Tom Brady’s back in 2013, in which Rodgers would receive his money differently than his current contract, but with more guaranteed money as well as an extension to the current contract.

However, Rodgers is not 35 and also has no guarantee from management that they have plans to upgrade the team and get him some help. What would be the point of sticking around after his prime years are well in the rear view mirror and the team still has no real change?

The real answer to the restructure question is to look at players like Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb as possible restructure candidates. Matthews has been an essential piece to the defense and the team would struggle without him. But he has trouble staying on the field and has not brought the production to match the contract. Cobb is in a similar boat. Cobb showed some flashes in the post season of his old self, but he has definitely not lived up to contract extension that nets him $10 million per year.

Our next offseason installment will focus on players that Thompson can target in free agency.

 

The NFL's Deepest Receiving Corps Propel Green Bay Past New York

TEWES

By: Bill Tewes

The Green Bay Packers looked like they were on their way to another lackluster playoff performance, until the deepest receiving corps in the NFL turned up the heat in the frigid cold. Aaron Rodgers and company struck back against a stout New York Giants secondary that had shut them out throughout most of the first half.

The second quarter almost spelled doom for Green Bay, as Jordy Nelson took flight to make what should have been a spectacular catch down the sideline. Instead, Nelson dropped the ball and took a punishing (and illegal) hit from defensive back Leon Hall. Nelson crawled over to the sideline and was down for a long time. It looked like Green Bay’s offense, which at that point was floundering, was completely doomed.

Enter Davante Adams, who became Rodgers’ first read after Nelson went out. The Packers marched down the field after a nice punt return from Micah Hyde and this drive would be all Adams. After getting no traction with Adams throughout much of the first half, Rodgers hit a huge pass to him down the sideline, with Adams shaking coverage en route to a 31 yard gain. The drive resulted in the most important sequence of the game, as the offensive line gave Aaron Rodgers all day. Rodgers, showing legendary pocket presence, took nearly nine seconds to find Adams in the end-zone, who is proving to be Mr. January by coming up big in playoff games.

The true wildcard in this game was Randall Cobb. No one knew how many snaps he was going to get or if he could perform at a high-level after being out for two games with an ankle injury, but he looked none the worse for wear. Cobb’s touchdown grab of Rodgers’ Hail Mary heave to end the half gave the Packers a monumental boost and some nice separation on the score board after a poor start. Cobb would grab two more touchdowns finishing with five receptions for 116 yards and leaving no question as to his importance to this team.

Green Bay’s receivers absolutely outclassed New York’s all game. Odell Beckham dropped multiple catch-able passes and finished up with four receptions for 28 yards, making him the fifth best statistical receiver for New York Sunday afternoon. Tavarres King, who had two catches in all of the games he played in the regular season, hauled in a nice touchdown grab on broken coverage by Damarious Randall. That catch accounted for 41 of his 73 yards. For all the talk of Green Bay’s secondary collapsing and potentially allowing for one of the more dynamic receivers in the NFL (Beckham) to completely trash them, they held their own and held him in check all game. Outside of King, they did not allow rookie Sterling Shephard to find room to work, as he has become a solid red zone threat for New York with eight touchdowns this year.

The Packers also got solid contributions from Jared Cook and Ty Montgomery. Cook was consistently getting open and even though Rodgers overthrew him a couple times, he connected with Cook on multiple second down conversions for 10+ yards. The Packers will need Cook to step up if Nelson as well as maybe even Montgomery miss time. Montgomery added three catches for 41 yards and if he suits up next week against Dallas, will add a short pass threat out of the backfield.

Geronimo Allison was an afterthought all game, catching only one pass for eight yards after having an impressive game against the Lions last week. Allison took a backseat with Cobb coming back, but still offers a dangerous weapon as well as quality depth at a position that is always seemingly deep for Green Bay. They will need all hands on deck to beat Dallas in Jerry World.

dallasvsgreenbay

Taking a look at advance metrics shows Dallas’ secondary ranks 26th in the league according to Pro-Football Reference. There will be plenty of opportunities for Rodgers and this deep receiving corps to do some damage through the air. Dallas’ defense excels in run defense as they are ranked first overall in the entire league, so the Packers will have to find unique ways to utilize Montgomery, Aaron Ripkowski and Christine Michael in the passing game and take what they can get on the ground.

Next Sunday’s game is shaping up to be an instant classic. Will the rookie duo of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott keep up their incredible maiden season and down the Pack in Dallas? Or will Aaron Rodgers continue his Run-The-Table campaign with a win in the same building he won his first Super Bowl in?

Week 13 Predictions: Houston at Green Bay

By Bill Tewes, Mark Prott, & Jim Boyce

The Packers are finally back home this week to take on a Texans team that has struggled as of late. Like last week the Pack will need to put together a winning performance to keep their playoff dreams alive.

JIM

PACKERS 26 TEXANS 17

Facing an uncommon opponent on a short week can present some challenges, but overall I think Green Bay matches up well against the Texans in many of the same areas they matched up well against the Eagles. QB Brock Osweiler has been one of the worst starters in the NFL this season, which means that even a stud WR like DeAndre Hopkins may have trouble exploiting the Packers secondary. It would certainly be disappointing if the Packers allowed Osweiler to have a big day. RB Lamar Miller has been iffy to play this week, if he is unable to go it would be a big blow for Houston. If he does play he will present some  challenges to the Packers front seven. Overall Houston is not a great offensive team.

The Texans are a good defensive team however, even without J.J. Watt. The Packers will need a big day from the offensive line to keep a possibly limited Aaron Rodgers clean. I could see the Packers struggling at times on offense. Perhaps we will see more Christine Michael this week, James Starks has not been able to get much going on the ground. This is a game the Packers should win as the Texans have struggled immensely on the road against good teams. Once again the season hinges on the team performing up to their potential.

MARK

PACKERS 31 TEXANS 17

It was difficult to take the bold comments seriously after multiple dismal performances in a row but Aaron Rodgers’ remarks about being able to run the table may not be so silly after all. The game against the Eagles was probably the most complete performance the Packers have put together in the 2016 season. It almost always seems dangerous to make predictions about this team, but I believe they regained confidence and I’m forecasting a similar comfortable outcome to last week. The Texans have above average skill players on offense, but Brock Osweiler is playing with little confidence and so the Packers’ defense should have a great opportunity to increase their confidence and get right.

The Texans have an above average defense but will be without OLB Jadeveon Clowney, which is a major blow to their chances.  Aaron Rodgers will be playing with a hamstring injury so we should see a continuation of the short, quick passing game that was was so successful against the Eagles.  The Texans are a blitzing defense and I expect to see plenty against a vulnerable Rodgers without his legs in top condition. This makes it so key that Rodgers gets the ball out quick. The MVP version of Aaron Rodgers made teams pay dearly when they blitzed him in the past. We saw glimpses of that last week and vintage pinpoint throws that seemed to be missing all season. Maybe Rodgers is getting on a hot stretch again, which would back up his bold comments.

BILL

PACKERS 35 TEXANS 14

The Green Bay Packers are going to have to get newly signed running back Christine Michael and hybrid receiver/running back Ty Montgomery more involved, if they want to strike solid offensive balance and make a playoff run. The Packers were able to decimate Philadelphia’s secondary last week, but against a Houston Texans secondary that is top five in the league, the Packers will need an effective run game to be able work off the play action. McCarthy and company are going to have to find ways to exploit Houston’s secondary and a consistent run game is going to be crucial to doing just that.

If Clay Matthews is forced to miss yet another game, I imagine Texans HC Bill O’Brien will look to exploit the middle of the field, utilizing tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz who is having an exceptional year so far. Exceptional, considering Brock Osweiler is the least efficient QB in all of the NFL. The Packers are hurting everywhere on defense, but the linebacking crew has been hit the hardest recently. Blake Martinez, Jake Ryan and Matthews are all questionable and it would be a huge blow to the Packers’ chances to win this game if they all sit.

With that being said, I still think Aaron Rodgers is going to, yet again, find a way to torch this Texans defense. With Davante Adams playing incredible football and Jordy Nelson being a solid compliment (as well as still drawing more attention), Rodgers will have plenty of options to air it out and hopefully they can get Jared Cook more involved again as he has shown he is capable of being a weapon for this team.

Week Nine Predictions: Green Bay vs. Indianapolis

By: Mark Prott, Bill Tewes, & Jim Boyce

Coming off a tough loss in Atlanta, the Packers look to get back on track with a home game against the struggling Colts.

JIM

PACKERS 34 COLTS 20

Pass rush, pass rush and more pass rush. That is the key to Sunday’s game. Andrew Luck, while a fantastic QB, has been sacked 31 times in 8 games which is the most in the league. The Packers secondary is obviously banged up and was exposed in Atlanta. The Colts have weapons on the perimeter that can do similar damage, which is why it is very important for the Packers front seven to impose their will and get Luck to the ground.

The Colts, despite having offensive weapons, are not a good team right now. They are 3-5 and typical struggle on the road. One of the main reasons for their struggles is that their defense has been a mess for most of the season. Just last week they let Nick Foles air it out on them. If Aaron Rodgers is as sharp as he was in Atlanta the Packers will put up 30 plus points easily. A win here is very important to Green Bay, at 5-3 they would still be in good shape in the NFC playoff picture. Going 4-4 with a loss at home to the Colts and one would have to question if the Packers are more than an average team.

BILL

PACKERS 45 COLTS 20

The words “Game Time Decision” is the key phrase for this weekend. For the Packers, it looks like they may be without receiver Randall Cobb, but also gain Ty Montgomery back from his sickle-cell scare. Clay Matthews is questionable, but is expected to play. The Packers may also get some secondary help with the return of Quinten Rollins, but he appears to also be a game time decision. With all of the injury concerns, I still expect the Packers to pummel the Colts Sunday afternoon.

Andrew Luck has done everything imaginable to carry this team to their three victories this season. Their defensive is absolutely atrocious and will be down starting safety Mike Adams and may very well be without Vontae Davis if he is not cleared by a second independent neurologist. Indianapolis’ offensive line has played a better this year, but Luck is still taking too many sacks. If Green Bay does not get a pass rush against Indy, I doubt they will be able to get a pass rush against anyone else this year.

Aaron Rodgers will throw all day as the Packers still have yet to find any traction in the run game. Even with Montgomery back, I think the Packers will ease him in to action and see how his body responds to the discovery of sickle-cell trait. Expect Davante Adams to have a huge game and it would not shock me at all to see Rodgers throw for over 400 yards. I’m also looking for the defense to show up and come up with a defensive score, as Luck will give us some opportunities to take one to the house.

MARK

PACKERS 38 COLTS 24

With 2 premium NFL quarterbacks again on display in Rodgers and Luck and the Packers still trotting out a banged up secondary, it will not be a shock again to see a shootout not too different from last week against the Falcons. However, my guess is the Packers come out on top due to the sheer difference in talent. The Packers hold a substantial advantage over the Colts in both the offensive line and front seven defensive personnel. Quarterback pressure will be key and it was shocking to see last week how different the defense looked last week without Clay Matthews. His return is pivotal to the success of the defense lacking depth in the secondary.

Add in the home field advantage with the always rowdy Milwaukee crowd that comes up for the gold package games and I see a relatively comfortable win for the green and gold. Ty Montgomery back in the backfield will provide Aaron Rodgers with a security blanket and look for the all of a sudden rookie sensation Trevor Davis to make another splash play or two.

 

 

 

 

 

Talk of Aaron Rodgers not being clutch needs to stop

By: Bill Tewes

There is a ridiculous notion going around that Aaron Rodgers is not “clutch”. Yes I am referencing the article Bob McGinn wrote this morning referencing a statistic from Pro Football Reference that ranks Rodgers 94th all time in “game winning drives” and also suggesting that Rodgers did not deliver against the Falcons Sunday afternoon.

Where McGinn misses the mark (just like many others) about Rodgers is that he puts the team in positions to win games. Rodgers does deliver, but other variables such as the defense blowing a lead or poor play calling result in Rodgers’ poor fourth quarter comebacks ranking.

If this game is the reason for people to bring up the old (and tired) discussion of Rodgers “clutchness”, then I would have to seriously ask what Aaron Rodgers did to not be clutch yesterday? Was it the final drive where he was asked to drive 40+ yards in 30 seconds? What about the four touchdowns to zero interceptions he threw yesterday? Sounds to me like Rodgers did enough to win the game for the Green Bay Packers yesterday.

About the only thing Rodgers could have done yesterday to win the game was line up in the secondary and prevent an easy touchdown and perhaps maybe shave some more time off the clock for their final touchdown drive. The reality is, at least in this instance, Rodgers did more than enough to win the game. He was asked to come back with less than 35 seconds on the clock and put the team in position to win, no easy task. Green Bay’s defense got shredded and Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers is going to have to answer for why plodding linebacker Jake Ryan was covering speedy receiver Mohamed Sanu on the final touchdown drive that put Atlanta ahead.

It is difficult to place value on what being “clutch” brings to the table. What does clutch mean to a quarterback like Kurt Warner who only had nine fourth quarter comebacks throughout his career (according to Pro Football Reference) but is a two-time MVP and won a Super Bowl. Dan Marino on the other hand had 36 total fourth quarter comebacks according to Pro Football Reference and has never won a Super Bowl. Matt Ryan, the quarterback who completed a comeback Sunday against Green Bay has 25 fourth quarter comebacks to his credit but also blew a 17-0 lead in the 2012 NFC title game and Atlanta has been notorious for monumental collapses over the years. Being clutch is extremely subjective and I honestly believe Rodgers has the body of work to prove that his clutch-less performances can be explained away.

Rodgers has shown his clutch ability in many games in which Green Bay was either not expected to win, or faced a difficult comeback. Two specific examples are on the road against the Seahawks in the 2014 NFC Title game as well as on the road against the Arizona Cardinals in 2009 Divisional Round. The Seahawks game was one in which if Green Bay managed the game better down the stretch, we would be talking about what Rodgers did to win us that game in a hostile environment. The Arizona game Green Bay was down 21 points and Rodgers (along with JerMichael Finley) forced overtime.

Last year’s playoff game against the Cardinals witnessed Rodgers pull one out of nowhere with a hail mary toss to receiver Jeff Janis and even though they lost, is further proof of Rodgers’ comeback ability. While the sample sizes are small, I think they still suggest that the clutch “trait” is again subjective and open to a lot of interpretation as to what value it really has.

It Doesn't Matter What Position Ty Montgomery Plays

Is Ty Montgomery a running back or a receiver? It doesn’t matter!

By: Bill Tewes

When a player lands on the injured reserve list, it is generally a horrible predicament for many teams, especially when that player is a starter and a star. For the Green Bay Packers, losing Eddie Lacy to injury was a position many thought the team could not afford to be in. While the Packers are certainly hurting without Lacy, the door has been opened for yet another opportunity for Green Bay’s offense to be revitalized.

Enter Ty Montgomery, the second year wide receiver out of Stanford. Up until the Dallas game, Montgomery had seen limited action this season, mostly due to the fact that he was coming off nearly a year removed from playing in an NFL game after suffering a brutal ankle injury against the Chargers last season. Montgomery is also part of a crowded wide receiver corps, but now it appears as if his role is about to expand exponentially.

Montgomery has been thrust into a Swiss army knife type role, where he will be asked to shoulder many of the touches at running back and also function as an essential part of Green Bay’s wide receiver corps. The injury to Lacy has definitely opened up the door for the opportunity at running back, but dating back to last season, head coach Mike McCarthy has been hell-bent on getting both Montgomery and Randall Cobb touches in the backfield. These two receivers have been ready for this role even if it was not necessarily going to be a defined role for them.

Green Bay’s victory versus Chicago showcased what Montgomery is capable of when he is comfortable at running back and given the opportunity to get nearly double digit carries. Montgomery carried the ball a total of nine times for 60 yards (a whopping 6.66 yards per carry) and broke off an impressive run where he found a hole and galloped to a 30 yard-gain.

Montgomery was the feature back throughout the night with practice squad call up Don Jackson suffering a hand injury only six snaps into the game. He also accounted for 66 yards receiving on 10 receptions and should be an essential piece to the revitalization of Green Bay’s offense this season. Teams should expect to see a full dose of Montgomery throughout the rest of this season. If Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was the head coach for the Green Bay Packers and was asked in a press conference if he thought Montgomery was a receiver or a running back, he would simply say “IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT POSITION HE PLAYS!”

Many have compared Montgomery to teammate Cobb, but it’s pretty obvious that Montgomery has the better build to handle a full carry load at running back, whereas Cobb could act as a change of pace scat-back type for a little extra speed out of the backfield. Montgomery’s draft profile suggested that he had not lived up to his potential as a wide receiver in college and his measurables better fit the description of a running back. It is safe to say this is the reason why the Packers did not invest a lot of money in the backup running back position, as they already had a player on the roster who is capable of filling this role if need be and that player is Montgomery.