Tag Archives: Packers rushing attack

NFC Post-Draft Power Rankings

Following the NFL Draft, the Mothership released its post-draft power rankings. You’d think the most visible sports conglomerate in the country would hire writers that don’t get swept up in off-season moves like an average rube and offer a power rankings based off more objective facts. Alas, that is not the case. The Seahawks have suddenly become top-dog because of their off-season signings and drafting depth at DT and another RB (who will likely be third-string behind Lynch and last year’s mid-round draft “steal”). Does it add up? Not quite. Here’s our own “objective” NFC Post-Draft Power Rankings:

1. San Francisco – Best defense in the league. The loss of Dashon Gholdson is mitigated by their selection of Eric Reed. The addition of Boldin is a good move in giving Kaepernick a veteran that runs the right routes, goes up and gets the ball, and is tough as nails – i.e. everything that Randy Moss is not. The rube rule is: until they are unseated, the 49ers are the best in the conference. But, it actually applies in this case.

2. Green Bay Packers – Bias aside, this ranking is justified. The best QB in the game, paired with a deep and talented WR-core that will survive Jennings’ departure, now has the protection offered by what should be a legitimate rushing attack. A top offense just got more dangerous. The return of Desmond Bishop and Nick Perry – to a lesser extent – are significant upgrades for the defense. And the addition of Datone Jones has the potential of finally giving the Packers some inside rush. Remember, the Packers had the fourth-most sacks last season without Bishop and Perry, and Claymaker missed time. And, the Packers already sport one of the deepest and most talented CB-core in Williams, Hayward, Shields, and House. They have gone 26-6 over the last two seasons for a reason and their two playoff losses were to the eventual Conference champs.

3. Seattle Seahawks – Let’s hold off on the Super Bowl parade route just a bit here. There is no doubt that getting Cheech was a huge coup for them. He is probably the most electric player in the game with the versatility he brings to offense and special teams. And they already sport a great defense – one that can challenge SF for supremacy. But, the additions of Avril and Bennett cannot replace Chris Clemmons who is likely lost for most, if not all, of next season after suffering an ACL injury in the playoffs. So, the Avril and Bennett additions don’t make the defense better. In fact, neither are as good as Clemmons – so they either make the defense a little worse or they only barely replace the hole left by Clemmons’ injury – which probably explains why both were signed to short-term deals. So, the real difference between last season’s team that nearly got blown out by the Falcons (until the Falcons went into prevent-the-win mode) and the 2013 team is the addition of Cheech. I don’t think he is the difference between a second-round playoff loss and a Super Bowl.

4. Atlanta Falcons – Call me when Matty Ice earns that nickname and wins more than one playoff game. A 1-4 playoff record (including two losses at home as the no. 1 seed) with a 9:7 TD-to-INT ratio and 85.2 quarterback ranking earns this power ranking. And if we want to get deeper into the analysis, the Falcons already sported a leaky secondary and now lost both Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes in free agency, leaving them with Asante Samuel (known more for his gambling ways than true coverage skills) and two rookies: Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford. In fact, this might be a little high for them considering the Giants potential re-boot and the early returns that RGIII is seeing in his rehabilitation.

5. New York Giants – No matter the missed playoffs last year. This is a team that is always dangerous with that defensive line and the potential for Eli Manning to play like a two-time Super Bowl MVP when it matters most.

6. Washington Redskins – This ranking is purely contingent upon the return to health of RGIII. Shanahan should be sued for his level of “care” for RGIII in that playoff game! One thing to keep in mind about this team, they get Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan back, making what was becoming a good defense even better.

7. New Orleans Saints – Sorry, cannot help it. Brees will welcome back Sean Payton with open arms. There’s been a lot of turnover since their SB win. But, with Rob Ryan now running the defense, this is a team that could improve quickly and challenge ATL for the top-spot in the NFC South.

8. Chicago Bears – There are a lot of questions surrounding this team. There is new leadership everywhere – front office, coaches, and the loss of Urlacher. Still, there is talent on this team with Quitler, Marshall, Forte, Peppers, Briggs, Tillman, et al. The addition of Bushrod – though overrated – is still an upgrade for the line and Martellus Bennett is a nice addition. The real key will be for this aging defense to hang on for another year. My prediction: they are perilously close to going through a rebuild, and need to start strong next year or else things could turn ugly, quickly.

9. Minnesota Vikings – Vikes’ unlikely playoff run was due, in large part, to AP’s superhuman efforts. The key is the play of Christian Ponder. He needs to further develop and become consistent. The jekyll-and-hyde play cannot continue. In the offseason, the Vikes did a tremendous job of filling critical holes in getting Jennings, Floyd, Rhodes, and Patterson. But, after the excitement wears down from sniping three first-rounders, these players all need to produce immediately for the Vikes to build off last year’s playoff run. If they don’t and Ponder is still inconsistent, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Vikes are this year’s Lions – i.e. make a surprise playoffs run only to finish with a poor record when facing a tougher schedule and facing higher expectations in the next season.

Packers Roob: I won’t get into my thoughts on Patterson. But, the following stats are interesting considering Patterson is known mostly for his athleticism rather than route-running:

Patterson – 6’2″, 216 lbs, 4.33 40-yard dash, 37″ vertical, 10’6″ broad jump

Charles Johnson (Pack’s 7th Rd. Selection) – 6’2″, 215 lbs., 4.38 40-yard dash, 39.5″ vertical, and 11’1″ broad jump.

Vikings Rube: I am glad you are not getting into your thoughts on Patterson. Also, it is a damn good thing that they do not play the game at the NFL Combine using lame tests like that. How boring?! Though, if they did, Player A: 6’3″, 223 lbs., 4.46 40-yard dash, 42.5″ vertical, and 11’5″ broad jump, might be a Hall of Fame quarterback. Instead, Joe Webb sold me a McMuffin this morning. Charles Johnson went in the 7th round because most draftniks did not see him being an NFL starter. The same cannot be said of potential superstar Cordarrelle Patterson. That is enough of that nonsense, back to the rankings.

10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Lots of noise made this offseason. Should improve the secondary dramatically with the arrivals of Gholdson and Revis. And, they already have a good defensive line. If Freeman stops doing his best Ponder impression and reverts back to his sophomore year form, this offense should be able to produce with Freeman, Doug Martin, and Mike Williams.

11. Dallas Cowboys – Tony Romo. The reason why the Cowboys will forever be the bridesmaids and finish 8-8 or 9-7. Good, but always one-game out of the playoffs.

12. Detroit Lions – The Lions are one-year removed from a playoff run. They still have Stafford and, of course, Megatron is Megatron. IF Reggie Bush stays healthy, the line somehow improves dramatically, their terrible first round selection is actually good, and the rag-tag group of mutts in the secondary plays well, they can be a good team. Lot of IFs though.

13. Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton has to bounce back, right?

14. St. Louis – A sneaky good, bad-team – if that makes sense.

15. Philadelphia Eagles – The Dream Team!

16. Arizona Cardinals – You have to feel bad for Fitz.

Let us know what you think. Which rankings did we get right and which ones are we way off on?

Advertisements

The Packers Have a Running Game!?!

It’s a wrap. The 2013 NFL Draft is over. And the Packers made significant strides on offense, may have found Cullen Jenkins’ replacement, and added quality (hopefully) depth to the offensive line and a number of positions on defense.

But, perhaps the most important improvement from this draft will come from the Packers’ selections of Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin. For the first time since Ahman Green (and, yes, I’m overlooking Ryan’s Grant’s short stint), the Packers should field a dangerous rushing attack. After falling into the consensus top-RB in Eddie Lacy in the second round, the Packers traded back into the end of the fourth to grab Johnathan Franklin.

Franklin's selection was surprising, but also very smart by TT. Now, the Packers have a legitimate running game that goes three-deep.

Franklin’s selection was surprising, but also very smart by TT. Now, the Packers have a legitimate running game that goes three-deep.

Out of UCLA, Franklin is 5’10” and 210 lbs. Powerful in his own right, Franklin is more the elusive, scat-back type. He’s a capable receiver out of the backfield and has just enough speed to break a long one. And he’s a high-character individual, aspiring to be the Mayor of Los Angeles after his playing career.

So, heading into training camp, the Packers will field three-headed backfield that should finally force teams to honor the run game. Eddie Lacy should be the starter and player to get most of the carriers. He’s built for delivering punishment and getting the hard yards; yet, he’s quick and blessed with a devastating spin-move. Franklin should ascend to the third-down role because he’s a good pass-catcher, can pick up the blitz, and good in the open field. And, we can’t forget DuJuan Harris, the breakout player over the last several games. He’s a bowling ball that runs as hard as he can every time he touches the ball. He showed burst, vision, and some good moves in limited playing time.

The importance of fielding a legitimate run game cannot be understated. It’s been 43 games since the Packers last had a 100-yard rusher. In the last three years, Packers’ running backs have 12-total rushing touchdowns and averaged the lowest yards-per-carry in the league.

Because a run game was nonexistent, teams regularly played some form of a cover-2, taking away the big-play threat that defined the 2011 season. The once-dangerous play-action game became nonexistent. And, as you might expect, the Packers offense was stagnant throughout the season. It is just too difficult to sustain long drives relying almost solely on the passing game. This leads to short drives – meaning the defense is on the field more – and inconsistent production on offense.

With all the excitement about Lacy and Franklin, we can't forget about DuJuan. He's the wild-card in this three-headed backfield.

With all the excitement about Lacy and Franklin, we can’t forget about DuJuan. He’s the wild-card in this three-headed backfield.

But now, the three-headed backfield will force teams to honor a run game. This brings the defenders closer to the box and the defensive line has to consider the run game before getting after the passer. To put it differently, guys like Jared Allen, Peppers, and Suh can’t just pin their ears back and get after it. A legitimate run games makes them play honest. In turn, that provides more time for Rodgers, opens up the field for the deep ball, and reinvigorates the play-action game.┬áSo, in a roundabout way, TT did protect his $110M man.

Of course, the key a successful run game is an offensive line that can open up holes. Not exactly our line’s strong point. Remember, though, the Packers will get back Bulaga at RT (or LT) and Lang will be fully healthy. EDS is an upgrade over Saturday. And it appears evident that the Packers are going to do whatever it takes to get better production out of the LT spot. So there is hope that the line-play will be better next season. And you can’t overlook the fact that talented running backs can take advantage of what the line does give them with better vision than the hesitant Starks and Green.

By all accounts, Datone Jones appears to be a great fit for the DE spot – a critical piece to the success of our defense. But, the additions of Lacy and Franklin should excite Packers Nation. An already dangerous offense just got significantly better. September 8 can’t get here soon enough!