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Packers New Year's Resolutions

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Packers New Year's Resolutions

As we ring in the New Year, here is one resolution for each player on the Packers...

Offense
  • Aaron Rodgers: Avoid losses by throwing the football to a checkdown receiver or throwing it away. It's all about knowing the limitations of an offensive line that's adequate, but not above average.
  • Matt Flynn: Avoid forcing the football. Flynn doesn't have the arm strength of an Aaron Rodgers and as such, can't make the intermediate to long throws quite as well. The ball isn't going to reach his receivers as quickly as Rodgers, so he needs to make good decisions. When Flynn must throw the ball downfield, they have to be smart throws that won't be intercepted.
  • Graham Harrell: Patience in the pocket. The rush comes faster and harder than it did at Texas Tech, but Harrell can't get happy feet. He needs to take advantage of the offseason program, learn the offense inside and out and know where his receivers are at all times. When his first option isn't open, he needs to step up in the pocket and know where his second and third options are.
  • James Starks: Be in strength and conditioning coordinator Mark Lovat's back pocket. If Ryan Grant leaves via free agency, Starks will become even more of a workhorse next year, especially if Alex Green isn't ready to step up. He has to avoid the injuries that have shortchanged him in each of his first two years. It starts with the strength and conditioning program in the offseason.
  • Ryan Grant: Become a workout warrior. If Grant is to remain relevant in the NFL beyond this season, whether it's in Green Bay or elsewhere, he has to be able to get to the second level. He's got to become one of those thirty-plus year old guys that lives, eats and sleeps in the weight room and runs endlessly.
  • Alex Green: Be ready by training camp. It might be too ambitious for Green to be ready for the offseason program in the spring, but to avoid falling behind any further, it would be beneficial for him to be ready for August and training camp. If there's a silver lining to Green's injury, it's that he suffered it early enough in the season to be ready in time for next year.
  • John Kuhn: Continued work at lead blocking. As far as fullbacks go, Kuhn is fantastic with the ball in his hands, both running and receiving. And his pass blocking is solid. But he's not in the same category as the best run blocking fullbacks in the NFL. He's a Pro Bowler, he got the big contract, now it's time for him to put together the complete game.
  • Brandon Saine: Work on blitz pickup: Saine was a great undrafted signing. He has obvious speed, and the biggest thing he brings to the Packers is his receiving threat out of the backfield. But if he wants to see more playing time, the Packers have trust him protecting Aaron Rodgers.
  • Greg Jennings: Don't regress. There's not much room for Jennings to climb, but there's a few, small things he can do. He can go from being a Pro Bowl backup to a Pro Bowl starter. He can show that instead of being one of the top six or eight receivers in the NFL, he's in the top two or three. And it happens by maintaining his high level of play.
  • Jordy Nelson: Pull even with Greg Jennings. Nelson became the undisputed No. 2 receiver in 2011, and has shown the ability to become a No. 1 receiver in the NFL. If he has another year in 2012 like he did in 2012, the discussion might turn to who's the No. 1 receiver for the Packers, Jennings or Nelson? The best possible scenario for the Packers might be if it's too difficult to answer the question at all.
  • Donald Driver: Maintain the current level of production. Driver is no longer the receiver he once was. But with 35 receptions and five touchdowns, he's still worthy of a roster spot and still a contributing member of the team. If Driver can put up another season like this one next year, he's still probably still worth keeping around.
  • James Jones: Become the undisputed No. 3 receiver. While Nelson has elevated to the No. 2 receiver this year, it's debatable who's No. 3. Is it Driver or Jones? And it looks like Randall Cobb is going to do everything in his power to stake out his claim next season. Jones has become much more consistent this year. putting up seven touchdowns and gaining more than 17 yards per catch. He needs to build off that next year.
  • Randall Cobb: Become an integral part of the offense. Cobb has been invaluable as a return threat this year but has been no more than a role player on offense. With Driver's career on the decline, it's time for Cobb to step up into the slot receiver position in a much more prominent role in 2012.
  • Jermichael Finley: Stop the drops. The recent spate of drops is a head scratcher. In his entire career, Finley had never shown to be the type of player that had any sort of problem with drops. Being more consistent will help him overcome any thoughts that he'll be the type of player that gets a big contract and then doesn't live up to it next year.
  • Andrew Quarless: Play again. The injury to Quarless was so severe that some worry whether it's career threatening. If he doesn't play in 2012, so be it. It's more important to his professional career that he heal properly and just be able to return at all, whether it's 2012 or later.
  • Tom Crabtree: Block on the move. Crabtree's calling card is his blocking, but he's much better in line than he is on the move, such as when he's used as a fullback. He's got to be able to engage athletic linebackers and not whiff.
  • D.J. Williams: Learn the offense inside and out. Williams learned a hard lesson midseason when he lined up wrong, the team had to burn a timeout, and then didn't see any action on offense for several weeks. If he wants to be more of a factor, that can't happen anymore.
  • Ryan Taylor: Be more than just a special teams player. Taylor is a valuable special teams player and is worthy of a roster spot for that alone. But he's talented enough to contribute on offense as well. He needs to continue to develop and gain the trust of both the coaches and his teammates. An offseason learning will certainly help.
  • Chad Clifton: Give every ounce of effort you have left. This might be it for Clifton. He has the opportunity to earn one more Super Bowl ring, because retirement might come after this season.
  • Marshall Newhouse: Mirror pass rushers. The Packers can live without Newhouse being a devastating run blocker as long as he can protect Rodgers' backside. He doesn't need to pancake opponents, he just has to stay between them and the quarterback. His performance last week against Julius Peppers was a step in the right direction, but he has to continue to improve.
  • T.J. Lang: Eliminate the pre-snap penalties. Early in the year, Lang was a penalty machine. They've become fewer and farther between as the season has gone on, which is good. Penalties in the postseason won't be looked upon very kindly.
  • Scott Wells: Stay the course. Wells has put together the three best seasons of his career from 2009 to 2011. That should be good enough for him to earn a lucrative contract in the offseason. Center is a position that a player can be effective far into their thirties. The Packers need for him to do exactly that if they're going to invest in him for the long run.
  • Josh Sitton: Get back to where he was in 2010. Whether it's due to injuries or not, the simple fact is that Sitton hasn't played as well in 2011 as he did in 2010. They need him to get back to being the dominating guard he was a season ago when he was arguably the best guard in the entire NFL.
  • Bryan Bulaga: Keep improving whether it's at right tackle or left tackle. Bulaga has done nothing but improve ever since coming to Green Bay. The Packers may need him at left tackle next season, but even if they don't, he needs to keep doing what's made him successful thus far.
  • Derek Sherrod: Don't lose ground. A recent interview with general manager Ted Thompson at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reveals that the Packers think Sherrod will be able to play in 2012. More than likely he's still going to miss the offseason program, however. It will be a tall task for him to step into the starting lineup by Opening Day in 2012, but if he can continue to be one of the top backups, there will be hope that he can still become a starter some day.
  • Evan Dietrich-Smith: Take advantage of opportunities. Dietrich-Smith is in a good position by being able to back up any of the interior positions. Whenever he gets a chance to play, he has to prove to the Packers he's too valuable to be replaced. He did a respectable job in 2011 but now has to take it to the next level.
  • Ray Dominguez: Earn a roster spot. In 2011, Dominguez was elevated to the 53-man roster by default after injuries necessitated it. Next year, he'll have to earn his roster spot by playing better than the competition the Packers will bring into training camp.
  • Herb Taylor: Practice like it's a game. Taylor is not likely to get an opportunity to play in any games, so if he wants to stick around, he'll need to flash in practice to prove to the coaching staff that he's worthy of bringing back in 2012.

Defense

  • B.J. Raji: Get back to putting pressure on the quarterback. In 2010, Raji had six and a half sacks in the regular season. The Packers haven't gotten much pass rush in 2011. They could use an assist from Raji.
  • Ryan Pickett: Eliminate the minor injuries. Pickett hasn't played in 16 regular season games since 2008. He's an underrated, vital cog in the Packers defensive front, and they'll continue to need him next year, hopefully for every game.
  • Mike Neal: Become a factor. Injuries were an excuse in each of the past two seasons, but they'll no longer be acceptable in 2012. Neal doesn't have to become a Pro Bowler, but if he plays in 2012 like he is in 2011, he'll be a bust. He has to stay healthy, become a starter and at least becoming a contributing member of the Packers defense.
  • Howard Green: Make one more big play. Green etched his spot in Packers lore when he hit Ben Roethlisberger in the Super Bowl, helping to force an interception return for a touchdown. But he's done very little memorable since. He's got to make at least one impact play, a sack or a big stuff for a loss or he'll be in danger of being a replacement-level player.
  • C.J. Wilson: Flash. Wilson has been a reliable player in his two years in Green Bay. He's been healthy and has been adequate at defending the run. But that may not be enough for him to make it a third year. He's got to make some plays. Wilson was a pass rusher in college but hasn't shown that penchant in the pros. A sack or two between now and the end of the season would raise his stock.
  • Jarius Wynn: Don't be invisible. Ever since notching a few early-season sacks, Wynn has become largely become absent. It doesn't appear as if Wynn will be anything more than a nickel defensive lineman playing on passing downs. If he's going to be a pass rusher, he has to put some pressure on the QB on a more consistent basis.
  • Clay Matthews: Finish. Matthews has 36.5 combined quarterback knockdowns and hurries, which ranks second in the NFL this season (Miami's Cameron Wake leads with 37.0). But Matthews only has six sacks. If he could turn just a handful of those knockdowns into sacks, the Packers would benefit greatly by putting the opponent into longer down-and-distance situations.
  • Erik Walden: Gain an edge through study. Walden isn't very good at defending the run, but it's not for a lack of effort. The toughness is there, the athleticism is there, but it's just not coming together. He needs to get an advantage in all phases of the ––defending the run, rushing the passer, covering receivers––by exploiting his opponents.
  • Frank Zombo: Be well rounded. Zombo was well rounded in 2010. He wasn't great, but he allowed the Packers defense to be effective by providing a little pass rush and setting the edge in run defense. That hasn't happened in 2011, though injuries have played a part. Zombo has to get healthy and get back to what he did in 2010.
  • Brad Jones: Become invaluable on special teams. If Jones wants to play for several more years in the NFL, he'd be advised to build upon what he did on special teams in 2011. He's not going to make a big impact on defense, so he better become committed to the craft of being the best special teams player he can.
  • Vic So'oto: Prove everyone right. So'oto showed enough for the organization to keep him on the roster despite not playing much in 2011. The raw ability is undeniable. By next training camp, he has to prove he was worth it: worth a roster spot this year in return for future production and worth developing. Every fan is in your corner. Prove them right too.
  • Jamari Lattimore: Be reliable on defense. Lattimore earned a roster spot through his production on special teams alone. At his size, it's hard to believe he could be a three-down player in the NFL, but he has to contribute on defense in some, way shape or form to continue to keep a roster spot. He has to become a situational pass rusher or, at the very least, don't be a liability on defense.
  • Desmond Bishop: Become the complete package. Bishop has shown to be a reliable player, a leader and threat as a blitzer. Now it's time to not just be a threat, but become a weapon, the type of player teams game plan around. Be an even better blitzer and tackler. Become an All-Pro.
  • A.J Hawk: Make the impact play. It's difficult to expect Hawk to become what he's not and never will be. But he had three interceptions a year ago and zero this year and he hasn't forced a fumble since 2007. He has to be more than just an effective communicator to keep his job. He doesn't have to become Ray Lewis, but getting a couple  interceptions, sacks and forced fumbles each year shouldn't be too much to ask from a first-round draft choice.
  • D.J. Smith: Don't miss tackles. Smith has a nose for the football, but there's been a few too many missed tackles, and some of it comes from overaggressiveness. He needs to play under control, become reliable, and he'll be a starter in the NFL before he knows it. Like many young players, participation in an offseason program should do wonders.
  • Robert Francois: Convince Shawn Slocum you need to be on special teams. It's hard to believe the Packers' fourth inside linebacker isn't good enough or reliable enough to play on special teams. Francois flashed on defense in limited playing time and might be a situational player in pass coverage. But if he's not going to be a starter, he has to have some worth on special teams to stick around. Francois should bother Slocum every day to give him that chance.
  • Charles Woodson: Win more than lose when gambling. Woodson isn't going to get any faster, so expecting him to improve his coverage isn't realistic. But he's given up a couple big plays this year by trying to jump routes and come up with the interception. Woodson still manages to come up with big turnovers, so his gambling tends to pay off. But he just needs to become more discretionary as he gets older.
  • Tramon Williams: Get back to playing aggressively. In 2010, when he deserved All-Pro status, Williams was a willing hitter, the type of guy who could come up from his cornerback positon and reliably take a player down. He seems way more tentative in 2011, and that's at least partially due to a shoulder injury, but that was long enough ago that it should no longer be used as a crutch.
  • Sam Shields: Don't get beat deep. Cornerbacks get beat. It's inevitable. But with Shields' speed, he's not the type that should get beat over the top. Giving up 10-yard first downs are better than giving up 30-plus yard touchdowns.
  • Jarrett Bush: Rely on experience: Now in his sixth season, Bush has to learn from all the experience he's gained. He's done it on special teams, and now he has to do it on defense. Bush has learned many tough lessons in the NFL, and the breakdowns in coverage have to become far fewer.
  • Pat Lee: Show you can still play defense. Lee has done an underrated job on special teams this year. He's played so well, in fact, he probably assured he'll sign a free agent contract somewhere this offseason (whether in Green Bay or somewhere else) if for nothing else than to play special teams. But he has to be more than just special teams player. In a pinch, a team still has to trust him enough to put him out on the field on defense.
  • Davon House: Be on the active roster. House doesn't need become a starter in 2012, but he has to take the next step. He has to play in 2012 both on special teams and as a reserve cornerback.
  • Nick Collins: Make the right choice. It's not worth coming back to football if Collins' quality of life is in danger. If he can come back, great. If not, that's fine too.
  • Morgan Burnett: Be in the right place at the right time. Burnett has been out of position far too many times in 2011. When his teammates expect him to be in a certain place on the field, Burnett has to be there in order to provide help. Being in the right place at the right time will allow him to get more turnovers too.
  • Charlie Peprah: Be option B, not C. Ideally, Charlie Peprah is not a starting safety for the Packers in 2012. Either Nick Collins will be back, or the Packers will attempt to upgrade the position through the draft or free agency. But Peprah can still be a valuable backup. He can't lose ground to M.D. Jennings or any rookies the Packers bring in.
  • M.D. Jennings: Take advantage of game action. Jennings has done enough to earn an invitation to training camp in 2012. The Packers already know what they've got in him. So when the preseason rolls around, he has to impress the coaching staff. He needs make an impact both on defense and on special teams.

Special teams

  • Mason Crosby: Up the ante. Crosby took a major step forward in 2011. His field goal percentage has gone upward and there's been plenty of touchbacks on kickoffs this year. He even kicked his first game-winning field goal at New York since the first game of his rookie year. But it was only 31 yards in a tie game. He can reach the upper echelon of kickers in the NFL if he can hit a come-from-behind game winner from a longer distance.
  • Tim Masthay: Get out to a fast start. Masthay has started very slowly in each of the past two years before gaining steam midseason and then finishing strong. He might be a Pro Bowl caliber punter if he can perform better in September.
  • Brett Goode: Remain flawless. Since Brett Goode has become the long snapper for the Packers, he's never had a snap that's been far enough off target to prevent a kick from getting off. Keep it up.

Only players who were on the 53-man roster this year are included.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (10) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Nerd's Laptop's picture

It irritates me that they messed Sherrod up by putting him at G during the preseason. He might have become the top backup at LT and got alot of development under his belt.

Brian Carriveau's picture

If they could do it all over again, I don't think they would have put Sherrod at guard, but I also don't think they messed him up either. I think the Packers would have found out he was equally unprepared to play tackle as guard at that point in his development.

Jake's picture

I like the idea of Bulaga becoming the future LT. He's clearly the best tackle on the team and it'd be great if he could protect Rodger's blind side. I understand that people would want to keep him at RT where he's played so well, but I wonder why I haven't really heard any buzz about the possible switch...

Brian Carriveau's picture

Between Marshall Newhouse and Derek Sherrod, I think most people thought one of them would be able to develop into the left tackle of the future. Now that Sherrod is hurt (which is a recent development) and Newhouse has just been so-so, the idea of Bulaga at left tackle is now gaining steam.

Jeremy's picture

Nice Article!

I think Raji has lost some of his effectiveness on the end against quicker Exterior linemen how are better with their hands, and can match his foot speed. As the younger player, I'd like to see him back at nose and Pickett back at end.

"36.5 combined quarterback knockdowns and hurries" Where did you get that? I've been looking for a source for those numbers.

Oppy's picture

While I don't have a source for the numbers Brian posted, I can tell you that throughout the season, Matthews has been leading OLB's in the league in hits and hurries, and one of the top 3 players at any position in QB hits and hurries...

For all the complaints about Matthews not getting home, this season he's been consistently disruptive, and a better all around defender vs. both the run and the pass than he has been in previous years.

Might not have the "Sexy" stats, but Clay's game is on the steady incline each year.

Ruppert's picture

Ha haaaa...Sherrod you are!

I actually like the guy, but I just can't turn down the chance to quote Pink Floyd. Happy New Year everybody!

TundraBum's picture

Resolution suggestion for the whole gang:
2nd Super Bowl Ring in 2 years, and 8 lonely fingers left, ... not to mention 10 more toes. ;-)

Bob's picture

Should all of this happen, the Packers will be even better next year. Not good news for the other 31 teams.

PackersRS's picture

Great article Brian!
What I'd like to see Shields improve on next season is his press coverage. As it is, he hampers a lot of Capers likes to do. It'd go a long ways towards improving the D...

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