Sunday, August 30, 2009

Packers Vs.Cardinals: Preseason Game Three Winners and Losers



Last week I spoke of tempering my excitement and keeping things at a "McCarthy-like" even keel. Well, after whipping the Super Bowl runner-up Arizona Cardinals in the first half to the tune of 38-10, that's pretty darn hard to do. But I'm still going to try. So once again, let's take a calm, rational look at this past week's winners and losers.



Winners


Jeremy Kapinos: With his only camp competition (Durant Brooks) sidelined with a hip-flexor injury, Kapinos went into preseason game 3 as the Packers #1 punter. Kapinos had two punting opportunities in the game (thanks to the Brian Brohm-led second team offense) and did well. His punts covered 52 and 56 yards, respectively, with good hang time.

While many people, (including myself) have been writing that the Packers would be scanning the waiver wire after the final team cuts for another punter, perhaps that was never an option. Here's what Mike McCarthy had to say in a Sunday press conference when asked if Jeremy Kapinos had won the punting job "Kapinos has the ball. It's his responsibility to keep it. He's battled through this competition. I thought he kicked well in the game... I have no interest in going through what we went through last year. We'll learn from that experience, and I think it's a great opportunity that he's handled very well so far."

The key phrase in there, of course, is the "I have no interest in going through what we went through last year". That is an obvious reference to last preseason when the Packers cut punter Jon Ryan and brought in Derrick Frost with disastrous results. So it sounds like McCarthy is happy enough with Kapinos to award him the punting job.

While I am a huge believer that winning the field position battle leads to winning in general, if the Green Bay offense is really as good as they've shown, then I'm fine with Jeremy Kapinos. The Packers won't be using him that much, anyway.


Brian Brohm: Nobody has been a bigger critic of Brian Brohm than this writer. While I still don't think he'll ever be more than a backup QB in the NFL, I have to give some credit where credit is due. Brohm has actually shown some signs of improvement over the first three preseason games.

In those three games, his QB rating has improved from 0 to 51 to 104.2. Now, I still don't think he has an accurate enough arm to be successful in the NFL, even if he does get his head straightened out. I still think that comparatively, Matt Flynn was a steal as a seventh round draft pick. And I still want the Packers to get an experienced backup QB on their roster (as I have ranted about before).

But if there's one thing I strive for, it's to be fair. Last week I put Brian Brohm on my 'winners" list as a bit of a joke, noting how he had improved from a 0 rating to a 51 rating. But this week, I actually mean it. I'm taking him off the "favorite whipping boy" list - at least for this week.


Aaron Rodgers: Duh.... OK, so this is an obvious choice, but let me explain. Rodgers makes my list not for his TDs, not for his leadership and not for the results - THOSE are obvious. Rodgers is making my winners list for two less-obvious reasons.

In analyzing Aaron Rodgers play last year, there were three things I thought he needed to improve on. The first one was leadership on the field - and Rodgers showed me that was taken care of in the first two preseason games. The other two things were footwork in the pocket and accuracy on deep passes.

Too often last year, Rodgers took sacks that could have been avoided. He would often turn right into the path of a rusher. Other times, he seemingly couldn't decide what to do and got 'frozen" in the pocket as it collapsed around him. The Aaron Rodgers we saw against the Cardinals looked like a completely different player. He did an absolutely fantastic job of moving in the pocket and avoiding rushers, all while still going through his progressions. On the long pass to Driver, a fast-rushing Cardinal defender had him dead to rights, but a quick side-step in the right direction avoided the sack and gave him time to hit Driver down the field.

Speaking of the long completion to Donald Driver, that brings me to my third Rodgers observation. There was really only one pass that Aaron Rodgers had trouble throwing last season - the bomb. His long passes did not have enough air under them, consequently, he under-threw some wide-open receivers and made it easier for DBs to break up some of those passes.

His pass to Driver had plenty of height, allowing Driver to shield the defender from the ball with his body, letting the ball to drop safely into his hands. On the touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson, there was no defender to worry about. In the past, Rodgers might have under-thrown Nelson, allowing the DB to get back into the play. Last night, he led him perfectly. Nelson never had to break stride, resulting in the easy touchdown.

Charles Woodson: Triple Duh... In my opinion, the individual star of the game. Yes, even over Aaron Rodgers. For the last year, whenever I was asked who the Packer's best defensive player was, I always answered Charles Woodson. For the past month, whenever I was asked by some fan which Packer defender they should take for their fantasy football team, I have always answered Charles Woodson.

And let me say this one final time: Charles Woodson is NOT "getting old". I have seen this written multiple times by bloggers and professional sportswriters alike. Charles Woodson has played 11 seasons in the NFL and is 32 years old. He is an incredible athlete, keeps himself in outstanding shape and has shown NO signs of a drop-off. If anything, he seems to be getting better. Charles Woodson can easily play another 4-5 years at a very high level and probably a few more years after that, if he chooses. So the next guy who writes about how Woodson is not getting any younger and we need to have a replacement for him ready - well, they will feel my wrath.



Losers:

Ruvell Martin: OK, so this really isn't very fair, but hey, it wasn't easy finding "losers" in this game. Martin was pressed into holding for field goal attempts and was pretty awful at it. In his defense, he is only the "emergency" holder, but I think the Packers need to look elsewhere in case of emergency.

Martin also was guilty of a mistake near the end of the game, but it's one you can almost forgive. He recovered the Cardinals onside kick, saw a lane to the goal line and ran it in for a touchdown. A natural reaction, for sure, but the right play would have been to fall on the ball. By scoring the TD, Martin gave the Cardinals the ball back with an opportunity to go win the game. Falling on the ball would allow the Packers to just run out the clock to win the game. Lets just say I'm glad it happened in preseason.

The rest of the NFC North: Ignoring the Detroit Lions (for this season, at least), what do you think the Bears and Vikings were thinking as they gathered around their TVs Friday night? I'm sure they were curious to see what all the fuss was about with the Packers. After all, this team was 6-10 last year, right? So what do you think was going through their minds as they watched Aaron Rodgers and the Packers first team offense embarrass the Super Bowl runner-up Cardinals? After seeing the Packers put up 38 points by halftime, surely only two words entered their minds: Oh s***!

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You can find more of Jersey Al Bracco’s articles on several sports websites: Jersey Al’s Blog, Packer Chatters , Packers Lounge, NFL Touchdown and Bleacher Report.

You can also follow Jersey Al on twitter.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Vikings' Favre Will Divide, Packers Will Conquer



The rumblings out of Minnesota. A team divided. A "schism" it's being called.

In the words of one NFL source, Favre has "little support" in the locker room.

Ah, it's music to my ears.

Like Napoleon Bonaparte, the self-proclaimed emperor of France that didn't know when to stop, has Brett Favre gone too far and agitated his own Minnesota minions?

There are many players in the Viking locker room that don't want Favre there. Some resent his riding in on his white horse to seemingly "rescue" the Vikings. "We didn't need rescuing" is the sentiment.

Some resent the special treatment he has received from the Vikings organization and Brad Childress.

What self-respecting NFL coach drives to the airport to pick up a player? None. Except for Brad Childress.

Some are just buddies of Tarvaris Jackson and are incensed at the raw deal he has received. All T-Jack wanted was a fair fight between him and Sage Rosenfels. That scenario is officially dead.

And some are in Rosenfels' corner. They felt he could bring the consistency that T-Jack lacks.

After all, the Vikings did pretty well when unspectacular, but steady Gus Frerotte was at the helm last year. Why not give Sage a chance? That possibility is also dead.

As Abe Lincoln said (borrowed from the new testament, I believe), "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

Will Favre turn the Minnesota Vikings into "Team Turmoil?" It really only depends on one thing—how well he plays. If he is able to play at a high level and lead the Vikings to some wins, most likely all will be forgotten.

I happen to be one Packer fan that still believes he can play and if healthy, he will help the Vikings. But I don't regret the Packers' decision to go with Aaron Rodgers. That decision is looking better every day.

But if Favre playing well doesn't come to pass, resentment will linger, the "schism" will get larger, and the Vikings divided "house" and season will come tumbling down.

Like the egomaniacal emperor Napoleon, Brett Favre has recorded many victories and conquered many hardships. But will going to Minnesota be his Waterloo and mark the end of his reign as emperor of the NFL?

If so, then perhaps the Packers will conquer the NFC North. As a Packer fan, it's what I have to hope for.

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You can find more of Jersey Al Bracco’s articles on several sports websites: Jersey Al’s Blog, Packer Chatters , Packers Lounge, NFL Touchdown and of course, Bleacher Report.

You can also follow Jersey Al on twitter.


Packers Vs. Bills: Preseason Game Two Winners and Losers


While many euphoric Packers fans already have the team going to the Super Bowl based only on two preseason games, I am trying to keep a level head. There are some great signs, to be sure, but let’s not assume anything. Just ask the 0-16 Lions that were 4-0 in preseason last year.

So, in the spirit of keeping things at a “McCarthy-like” even keel, let’s take a calm, rational look at this past week’s winners and losers.

Winners:

The “Ones”: The No. 1 defense forced three turnovers in four Buffalo drives, and the No. 1 offense scored three touchdowns in four possessions. But before anyone gets overly exuberant, lets watch this week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals. If the Packers “Ones” repeat their dominant play, then I’ll personally jump to the front of the bandwagon.

Aaron Rodgers: He finished 8-of-9 for 98 yards and two TD passes for a gaudy 151.6 quarterback rating. Rodgers completed passes to six different receivers and hasn’t been sacked or even knocked down yet in preseason. That’s a wonderful thing to see, as holding onto the ball too long was one of the few things you could justly criticize Rodgers for last season.

Jermichael Finley: “A completely different person and player this year” is how Mike McCarthy has described him. It is showing with remarkable results on the field. While we all have witnessed his athleticism and pass-catching ability, he has worked hard on his attitude, his blocking and his route running. The results so far have been impressive. Along with the reliable Donald Lee, when the Packers go to a 2 tight end formation, there are now more options that the defense has to worry about. In this game, the Packers went with two tight ends on 13 of of the first 23 plays, when the “ones” were in the game.

Johnny Jolly: Despite seeing limited action due to an ongoing ankle injury, Jolly recorded two sacks and a forced fumble in just 12 plays from scrimmage. What will he do when his ankle is OK? Jolly is another guy that looks like a completely different player out there. I have been critical of Jolly in the past for taking too many plays off. Lets hope he has found himself in this, his 4th NFL season.

Desmond “The Destroyer” Bishop:
If you ever run into Desmond Bishop, just step out of his way. Packer fans have seen flashes of Desmond Bishop’s talent the last two seasons, but there were also a plethora of mental mistakes to offset the big plays. As he starts his third season, it seems his mental game has caught up with his physical game. He has made an inarguable case for more playing time at linebacker, in addition to his role on special teams. I see a nice 4-man ILB rotation developing between Hawk, Barnett Bishop and Chillar, with Bishop earning more time as the season progresses.

Tyrell Sutton: In my mind, I think he has already made the team. The Packers coaches like the different look he presents to defenses. Sutton seems very comfortable with the zone blocking scheme, picks his holes quickly and seems to always be getting positive yardage. He’s one of those guys that doesn’t fit your perfect mold for a running back, but he just makes plays.

Brian Brohm: Hey, he improved his quarterback rating from 0 to 51 in just one week. What’s not to like about that, right?

Losers:

Kregg Lumpkin: Besides the rantings of some lunatic blogger (yours truly) that insisted Lumpkin could be the Packers best running back, he has shown little this preseason. Yet prior to the Buffalo game, he was listed as third on the depth chart at RB, ahead of Deshawn Wynn.. That would probably be surprising to many Packers fans, but not to me. I think the Packers coaches see a lot of things they like in Kregg Lumpkin. Unfortunately, he had an awful day against Buffalo. He better turn it around next week or the practice squad will be looming.

Breno Giacomini:
Anytime you let your opponent sack your quarterback, and it results in your quarterback getting hurt, you wear the big L on your forehead. After the game, Coach McCarthy stated that he will look at the OL closely on film. He hopes to pick his starting offensive line before Friday’s game against the Cardinals and let them play together for 3 quarters. Once he sees the films, look for McCarthy to name Alan Barbe as the starter.

Jeremy Kapinos:
Is there anyone on this team with less apparent competition in camp that has such an insecure grip on a job? The Packers worked out four punters during the week before the Cleveland game but kept none of them. Durant Brooks was scratched for the Buffalo game with a hip flexor injury. Kapinos is the #1 punter on the depth chart. And yet, the odds are pretty good that the Packers punter in 2009 is probably on someone else’s roster right now. Of course, if the offense continues to play like it did against the Bills, who needs a punter, anyway? I’m just being facetious there, I happen to be a big believer that winning the field position battle leads to consistent success in the NFL. I’ve watched the Giants do it for years.

Bob Sanders: There was a mini-reunion after the game between some of the Packers players and former Packer defensive coordinator and current Buffalo defensive line coach Bob Sanders. There were smiles and hugs everywhere, and all the right things were said. Yet one has to feel sorry for Bob Sanders. If Dom Capers’ amazing transformation of the Packers defense continues, with basically the same players Bob Sanders had, then what picture does that paint of Bob Sanders? How about a loser with a “kick me” sign on his back. I’m not saying it’s right, just that it will happen. Even though he deserves better, many Packer fans will turn Bob Sanders into the second-most disrespected ex-Packer still in the NFL.

You can find more of Jersey Al Bracco’s articles on several sports websites: Jersey Al’s Blog, Packer Chatters , Packers Lounge, Bleacher Report and NFL Touchdown .

You can also follow Jersey Al on twitter.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Green Bay Packers Defense: 2009 Training Camp Improvements to Wish For

As the Packers’ 2009 training camp continues, here are the developments I want to see on the defensive side of the ball by the time the Packers break camp.

Developments I want to see on Defense:


More defensive line depth: HELP! Even before training camp started, I thought this was an area of concern for the Packers. The potential backups were Johnny Jolly, Justin Harrell, Mike Montgomery, Alfred Malone, Dean Muhtadi, Anthony Toribio and draft pick Jarius Wynn. There isn’t one name on that list that makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

Now that we are almost two weeks in, it’s a BIG concern. Projected starter BJ Raji is just getting into camp, Justin Harrell is again trapped in his injury hell and Johnny Jolly (who takes too many plays off for my liking, anyway) is banged up. The only bright spot on the line is Cullen Jenkins looking like his old self while coming back from his injury. Ryan Pickett is a solid player and is now surely the starter at nose tackle.

Having watched a lot of the New York Giants defense for the last few years, what makes them so good is the depth they have at DL. They can run reserves onto the field that are fresh and almost as talented as their starters. Opposing offensive linemen have to deal with a seemingly never-ending string of big, nasty defensive linemen. It wears the offensive linemen out and saps them of some of their strength as the game progresses. This is how the Giant’s defense is able to shut down opposing offenses late in games.

In my opinion, the Packers could really use another veteran on the DL to provide some depth. Ebenezer Ekuban, Kevin Carter, Vonnie Holliday and others are still out there and unsigned. Shouldn’t we have brought one of these guys in instead of Stryker Sulak? Sure, it would have cost more money, but isn’t there a bigger need at DL than there is at outside LB?

Al Harris moves to nickel back: Let me make this perfectly clear, I have nothing against Al Harris. This is really more about Tramon Williams than it is about Al Harris. While Al Harris may have lost a step and isn’t the greatest tackler, he is still in the top 20% of cornerbacks around the league. If the Packers break camp with Harris at the nickel, that means Williams had a GREAT camp and the coaches feel he is ready for NFL success. I’m looking for Tramon to take that next big step and show us all that the flashes we’ve seen have been no accident.

Admittedly, this is a long shot. Deposing Al Harris would be no small feat, and the Packers coaches would surely be reluctant to make the move. Another factor is that Williams is probably better suited to the nickel position than Harris is. But who’s to say that in nickel situations, we don’t bring Harris in to play corner and move Williams to nickel? Is this type of move something that’s ever done by NFL coaches? I have no idea, just thinking out loud here. Regardless, my wish is to get Tramon Williams on the field for every defensive down.

Aaron Kampman: By the end of training camp, I just want to see Aaron Kampman be one thing: Comfortable. If Kampman is able to grasp the responsibilities of his new position well enough to be able to play without having to over-think, then he will be just fine. Will he become a great cover linebacker? Probably not. Can he become a great rushing linebacker? Probably yes.

I trust Dom Capers to use Kampman in the best way and maximize his effectiveness. He will surely attempt to limit the game situations when Kampman will be called upon to cover one-on-one. Kampman will be protected by schemes in which he will get help from corners or safeties. And you can expect Kampman to be turned loose in passing situations, often in sub packages, where he will play as an end in a three-point stance.

I also trust that Capers and Kevin Greene have gotten Kampman to “buy-in” to the change and have worked tirelessly to make him feel good about it. To Kampman’s credit, he has been a model student. Kampman has spent a great deal of time in Green Bay since Capers and his crew were hired. He has studied the playbook extensively and worked one-on-one with Greene for much of the off-season.

Now that training camp is underway, I mainly want to see Kampman become comfortable with the schemes and know what his responsibilities are in each situation. If he has that part mastered, I’m confidant his ability will take care of the rest.

Defense is ready for game 1: I started writing this article a few days before the first preseason game. When I referred to game 1, I was talking about the first game of the regular season. Little did I know, the defense would be ready by the first preseason game - a shutout! But seriously, I’m not reading anything into this first game against the awful Browns, other than our reserve DBs and LBs played well.

Getting back to my point, if the Packers are to have a winning season, it’s imperative the new defense is humming and ready to go to start the season. Tthe way the Packers’ schedule shakes out, the early games are where the wins are there for the taking. The Packers’ first six games are against Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Minnesota, Detroit, Cleveland. Even if we give the Packers a loss to one of their division rivals, that’s still 5 games they should put in the win column. But only if the defense is ready.

I’ve seen this scenario before, firsthand. In 2006, the Packers had fired Mike Sherman and brought in a new coaching staff headed by Mike McCarthy. The opening game of the season was against Chicago, and it happened to be my first ever visit to Lambeau Field. unfortunately, my day was ruined as the Packers were a disorganized mess. Nobody was on the same page, there were missed assignments galore and it seemed like on every play there was a Bear receiver open by 10 yards. I’ll swear on anything you like, that day, they made Rex Grossman look like Joe Montana. The final score was 26-0, but it could have easily been 40-0.

In any case, my point is that the Packers coaches simply had done a poor job getting the team ready for the start of the season. In fact, it took the better part of the season that year before the Packers started to look like a football team. With a new defensive staff and scheme, the Packers can’t afford to repeat that mistake. The good news is that Dom Capers is no Bob Sanders. Capers’ track record has me hoping he will get the job done in time.

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Check back for the next installment when I will cover some remaining miscellaneous topics. You can also read the previous installments on the kicking game and the offense.

You can find more of Jersey Al Bracco’s articles on several sports websites: Jersey Al’s Blog, Packer Chatters , Packers Lounge, NFL Touchdown and of course, Bleacher Report.

You can also follow Jersey Al on twitter (when it’s not being hacked).

Friday, August 7, 2009

Green Bay Packers Offense: 2009 Training Camp Improvements to Wish For



As the Packers’ 2009 training camp begins, here are the developments I want to see on the offensive side of the ball by the time the Packers break camp.

Developments I want to see on Offense:

Quinn Johnson wins at least a portion of the fullback job: For the Packers offense to be successful, the running game has to improve, especially the power running game. Protecting a lead late in games was a key failure point for the Packers last year.

The ability to grind out the tough yards late in games is a demoralizing dagger to your opponent. A power fullback leading those runs is just that much better. John Kuhn and Korey Hall have done an adequate job as blockers, but neither one would scare me. Quinn Johnson, however, is big, powerful, and would definitely put a little fear in me.

Johnson caught the eye of Packers scouts, leading to his selection by the Packers in the fifth round.

Says head coach Mike McCarthy, “Quinn, when you watch him play at LSU, when he hits you, he keeps moving forward. He definitely has that lead blocking ability that you’re definitely looking for in tight situations, whether it be short-yardage, goal-line, or first and second down, getting up and leading on those linebackers.”

So, I’m looking for the Mighty Quinn to live up to the hype (sounds weird for a 5th round draft pick, I know). If he is half of what he has been made out to be in the Packers Blogosphere, then we should be able to lessen the three-and-outs and keep those lead-keeping, time-eating late drives going.


Running Backs: Kregg Lumpkin makes the roster. OK, so this is blatantly self-serving, being that I wrote an article making the outlandish declaration that he is the best running back on the team.

But putting that aside, Lumpkin is a power runner like Ryan Grant, but with better vision and moves. He can make defenders miss, doesn’t run into his blockers (unlike Grant) and can push the pile when a hole isn’t there.

As Tom Pelissero of the Green Bay Press Gazette recently wrote “RB Kregg Lumpkin is the picture of form…he gets low while also keeping the ball high…” He is also a very good receiver, something else “Hands of Stone” Grant is not.

Lumpkin was the No. 2 running back prospect in the nation coming out of high school (some guy named Reggie Bush was No. 1). But his career since then has been a major disappointment because of inconsistency and the fact that he simply cannot stay healthy.

Competition for the last running back spot is fierce, with DeShawn Wynn and Tyrell Sutton also looking good. For Lumpkin to win the job, that would mean that he has finally put it all together. If that were to happen, the Packers would reap the rewards of having unearthed a real “hidden gem.” That’s what I’m hoping for.


Aaron Rodgers as a leader:
Few will dispute that Aaron Rodgers did a fine job in his first year replacing the Packers’ legendary QB, (he whose name we do not speak.) The only criticism you could render would be in the execution of the two-minute offense. But replacing a legend might be one of the most difficult tasks in sports.

You will forever be compared, undeserved as that may be. In the case of a quarterback, it’s about more than just touchdowns and interceptions, it’s about leadership. I don’t feel that Rogers was ready last year for that part of the job.

I think he was still a bit immature (I’m sure you saw his long hair, shaggy beard, and wacky hats). Whether he would admit it or not, running through his mind were probably thoughts about measuring up and insecurities about being THE MAN.

Now that he’s had a year to convince himself that he is capable on and off the field, there are signs that he could be ready for the role.

First, he has “cleaned himself up.” No more California slumming look. He looks like a quarterback now (although he has the beard growing again). You may consider this silly, but if anyone thinks appearance does not influence how others perceive you, then you’re not in touch with reality.

There are other signs. Here are some recent comments about Rodgers from Packers head Coach Mike McCarthy: “The biggest change I see is just really the interaction and the way he treats (his teammates) and the way his teammates treat him. You are definitely seeing his leadership ability moving forward.”

This writer wants to see Rodgers come out of that always laid back California cool persona. When it’s required, he can’t be afraid to get in the face of teammates that are screwing up. He needs to demand top performance from his teammates, and in return, he will gain their respect and confidence. Once he has that, the Packers’ two-minute drill problems will dissipate.

Offensive Line: There are so many possible outcomes here, I could write a short novel. Yet that, in itself, is the whole problem. So I’ll keep this simple. There is ONE thing I want to see. CONTINUITY. A set 5 guys with reserves that know their roles and what positions they might be asked to play. The offensive line merry-go-round has to stop!

Check back for the next installment when I will cover the defensive side of the ball. To read the previous installment on the kicking game, look HERE.

You can find more of Jersey Al Bracco’s articles on several sports websites: Jersey Al’s Blog, Packer Chatters , Packers Lounge, NFL Touchdown and of course, Bleacher Report.

You can follow Jersey Al on twitter (when it’s not being hacked).

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Green Bay Packers Kicking Game: 2009 Training Camp Improvements To Wish For



As the Packers’ 2009 training camp begins, here are the developments I want to see in the kicking game by the time the Packers break camp :

Kickoff Returns: Green Bay was last in the league last year in kickoff return yardage. Which is a bit surprising, considering Will Blackmon was so good on punt returns. Jordy Nelson had even less success in his attempts. The new NFL rules prohibiting wedge blocking are expected to make kickoff returns more like punt returns, so maybe that will help Blackmon and Nelson. If not, the Packers need to find someone else. One possibility is one of their undrafted free agents, Jaron Harris (Jerry Rice’s cousin), who returned kicks for 4 years in college. He hasn’t been looked at as a returner yet by the Packers, but that could change if the struggles continue. Of course, he would have to be a good enough receiver to beat out Ruvell Martin and Brett Swain for that 5th receiver spot or hope the Packers, keep six receivers if they are all special teams contributors. In any case, this must be addressed.

Punting: One of 2008’s unmitigated disasters. Jon Ryan was the third ranked punter in the league in terms of average yardage when he was cut before the first game of the season in favor of Derrick Frost. Supposedly, the Packers were looking for more consistency. Frost did so poorly, he was cut after 12 games and Jeremy Kapinos was brought in and did a decent job. At least he did what Mike Mccarthy wanted. In Mccarthy’s press conference explaining the move, he was quoted as such: “I want him to punt the ball in the right direction.” “I’m expected to win games. He’s expected to punt the ball in the right direction.” Then, McCarthy added, “I’m not trying to be funny.” Allllllll-righty, then… When the Packers break camp, they have to have a punter they believe in. And if Kapinos or Durant Brooks is not that guy, they have to find someone else. Evidently, they’ve tried, as this article by Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel describes.
Field Goals: Mason Crosby was 27th in the league last year in field goal percentage (79%). His rookie season he was 24th in the league (80%). Breaking down his numbers by distance, his Achilles heel has been the 30-39yds distance. In 2008, there were 13 kickers in the NFL that were perfect from that distance. Some had more attempts than Crosby, some less. Crosby missed three field goals from that distance. Despite this, we have no other kickers in camp. Isn’t it customary to at least have some kicking competition in camp? Field goal kicking is something that hasn’t been talked about much, but I feel it’s an area that needs to be improved on in training camp. I feel Crosby is being given an undeserved pass and there should be another kicker in camp to push him, if nothing else.

While there are other issues to be addressed (kickoff coverage, for example), the Packers have taken steps by drafting players known for the special teams prowess and re-signing some of their own free agents that were big special teams contributors. I’ve already covered that subject here.

Check back for the next installment when I will cover the defensive side of the ball.

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You can find more of Jersey Al Bracco’s articles on several sports websites: Jersey Al’s Blog, Packer Chatters , Packers Lounge, NFL Touchdown and Bleacher Report.

You can follow Jersey Al on twitter.