Tag: Matt Ryan

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.

 

NFC Championship Predictions: Green Bay at Atlanta

By: Bill Tewes, Mark Prott, & Jim Boyce

We are down to the final four of the NFL. In many ways an appearance in the NFC Title game would not have been a surprise to any of us making predictions back in August. The road Green Bay has traveled to get here though is truly remarkable. 60 Minutes will determine if they get a shot at the Super Bowl. Here is what we think will happen.

JIM

PACKERS 38 FALCONS 34

As fans these last two months are ones we will remember for a long time. I believe many of us have a new found appreciation for Aaron Rodgers’ greatness after this eight game win streak. Aaron Rodgers will need to continue to play on an MVP level no doubt, because the Falcons present challenges.

I believe Matt Ryan will win the NFL MVP award this season and it is pretty hard to argue against that. He has really played at a level I did not think was possible after a couple sub par seasons leading up to this one. Julio Jones will be less than 100% but still will provide an enormous challenge to Green Bay’s corners. I expect the two headed monster of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to cause a lot of problems for the Packers defense, perhaps more so as receivers than running the ball. There really is no stopping the Falcons offense from picking up yards, in order to win this game the Packers may need to force a key turnover or two.

Green Bays WR situation is in a bit of disarray as Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and Geronimo Allison all appear to be game time decisions. If both Nelson and Adams can’t go it might be too much for the Packers to overcome, though my guess is both will try to tough it out. Jared Cook has been a big part of the offense and will continue to be fed. Randall Cobb is playing how I thought he would in the regular season, with 12 receptions for 178 yards and 3 touchdowns during the playoffs. I think Cobb is going to end up having a big game both in terms of volume and impact.

Last weeks game against Dallas was truly an instant classic and I think we may be in store for another one. This match-up truly feels like a toss up and if Atlanta comes out the victor I will tip my hat to them. Aaron Rodgers looks like a man on a mission however, and I just can not pick against him right now. Green Bay takes a thriller on a late score.

BILL

PACKERS 41 FALCONS 31

It was just after Week 8’s loss to Atlanta that I wrote this article suggesting that Aaron Rodgers was indeed clutch, when the sports world was melting down and questioning if he was losing his touch. The Packers lost to the leagues best offense by one point and were missing the services of Clay Matthews, Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, Randall Cobb, Jared Cook and Ty Montgomery. All are expected to play Sunday, barring any setbacks, and will help send Green Bay to the Super Bowl.

It appears as if Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison will gut out their injuries in the biggest game of the season. For Adams and Allison, it is the biggest game of their careers and can separate them from many other receivers in the league with big performances. At this point it is safe to assume that Rodgers is going to bring his A+ game to the table, but it remains to be seen if all of our banged up players can do the same.

Matt Ryan had an MVP worthy season this year and has a plethora of weapons at his disposal. The Falcons have a healthy Tevin Coleman to compliment Devonta Freeman and even though Julio Jones is banged up, he is always a threat to go off for 150+. Which makes it even more important that Green Bay’s defense has a much different look and will than when they played Atlanta earlier this season. If Morgan Burnett sits it’ll pose a bigger challenge for Green Bay, but I think he toughs this one out and contributes big on Sunday.

I think Green Bay goes back and forth with Atlanta until late in the game when they go up 10 points and seal a Super Bowl berth. It seems as if things are just going right for Green Bay this year and Rodgers is making the best of his Run The Table campaign. Hard to bet against Green Bay, especially with our defense being as healthy as it has been in quite some time.

MARK

PACKERS 41 FALCONS 34

It seems a lot of times when people predict a shootout it fails to live up to the prediction and more defense shows up than originally anticipated. In this case, I don’t anticipate either of these defenses being able to slow down either potent offense. However, one thing the Packers’ defense does have and what I believe will be the key difference in the game is their ability lately to force turnovers. While Matt Ryan has been brilliant most of the year and rightfully deserves the MVP award for his consistent play, he has shown in the past that he will throw interceptions. Remember that just last year he threw 16 interceptions.

A lot has been written about the Packers and their injury problems this week with the questionable tags on pass catchers Jordy Nelson, Geronimo Allison, and Davante Adams. However, all three are expected to suit up and it’s just a matter of how effective they’ll be. I honestly feel either way Aaron Rodgers and whoever is out there catching passes will be able to move the ball at will on the weak Falcons’ secondary. Simply put, Aaron Rodgers is in a zone and also very comfortable playing in the Georgia Dome, which will give him an edge in a shootout.

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.

Week Eight Predictions: Green Bay at Atlanta

By: Bill Tewes, Mark Prott, & Jim Boyce

After disposing of the Bears, the Packers got a mini-bye to prepare for this Sunday’s game in Atlanta. Unfortunately the extra time did little to help Green Bay on the injury front as they face the dirty birds.

JIM

FALCONS 30 PACKERS 27

This was shaping up to be a difficult road challenge even before Clay Matthews and Randall Cobb were limited in practice, leaving their status for Sunday up in the air. Rodgers will likely rely heavily on the short passing game again. This could work quite well as Atlanta’s defense is weak in the middle of the field, though they do have a solid cornerback duo. Running Back remains a question, perhaps Don Jackson or Knile Davis will receive something resembling a normal RB workload, but I expect Ty Montgomery will be lined up back there quite a bit.

The Falcons offensive strengths seem to expose Green Bay’s biggest weakness right now. That strength being Julio Jones lining up against the Packers depleted secondary. With over 800 yards in seven games, Jones is doing things rarely seen in the NFL. The Packers will no doubt give him extra attention, but that could open things up for everyone else. While I’m not sure Atlanta is really an NFC contender, the Packers inconsistencies so far this season have me feeling like they’ll come up just short in this one.

Bill

Green Bay 28 Atlanta 21

At this point in the season, Green Bay will get their toughest offensive challenge in the Atlanta Falcons. The Packers are down their top three cornerbacks, which is going to be an obviously difficult challenge to overcome. Ladarius Gunter will most likely have the task of covering Julio Jones with safety help over the top. A successful game for Green Bay’s secondary will be if they can limit Julio to under 250 yards receiving. Stop laughing, it’s the damn truth.

In order for Green Bay to win this game, and I am picking them to win it in Atlanta, is for their defense to get frenetic pressure on quarterback Matt Ryan. The Falcons are a very beatable team and even with their high powered offense, as San Diego proved last week. Atlanta’s offensive line has been pretty bad this year, and should allow for Green Bay’s front to get plenty of pressure.

Atlanta’s linebacking group has proven lackluster and outside of cornerback Desmond Trufant, their secondary has no noteworthy players. Aaron Rodgers will have plenty of opportunities to pick apart this Falcons defense and must seize the moment in order for Green Bay to not only win, but regain confidence heading into a difficult stretch of their schedule. I expect receiver Davante Adams to play a huge role with Trufant shadowing Jordy Nelson, as well as RB/WR Ty Montgomery getting plenty of touches.

MARK

FALCONS 31 PACKERS 27

This game has all the makings of a shootout. I honestly could see it going either way but because it’s in Atlanta I’m giving the edge to the Falcons. Green Bay has been a solid defense overall this year but the Falcons have one of the top offenses in the league and maybe the top overall NFL offensive skill position player in Julio Jones. Jones must be salivating at the thought of running routes against the Packers’ opening day 4th cornerback, Ladarius Gunter. The best bet for the Packers’ success will likely be Gunter using his physicality at the line against Jones with help over the top from Clinton-Dix. The Packers will need to generate a pass rush against Matt Ryan, who is already being sacked almost 3 times per game.

On the offensive side of the ball I see the Packers picking up from last week against the Bears and also being able to move the ball against the Falcons and their below average defense. The secondary of the Falcons is nothing special so there should be opportunities in the passing game. The Packers would be wise to continue utilizing the short West Coast passing attack they used last week. It seemed to bring rhythm back to the overall game of Aaron Rodgers. With over a week now in the offense it will be interesting to see how much Knile Davis will be incorporated into the game plan.