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2017 Packers Not Short On Attitude

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2017 Packers Not Short On Attitude

After the disappointing end to the 2011 and 2012 seasons, the Green Bay Packers were labeled "soft".  Many said they were unceremoniously knocked out of the playoffs because they lacked the moxie to keep up with the January style of football.

After watching two gut-wrenching losses to the New York Giants (2011) and San Francisco 49ers (2012), it was apparent that Green Bay's finesse style wasn't going to get it done come the postseason.  They needed to replace the likes of guys like Charles Woodson, Nick Collins, Cullen Jenkins, Desmond Bishop and Jermichael Finley, to name a few.  It was time for an "attitude era" in Green Bay.

Defensive lineman Mike Daniels was drafted in 2012 and he has been a dog from day one but, for a long time, was a rare breed in the Packers locker room.  Offensive linemen Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang already had the grit and toughness and the Packers added Datone Jones in the first round of the 2013 draft.  It still wasn't enough.  2013 ended with another loss to the 49ers.

The next few drafts failed to produce a lot of attitude.  In 2014, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was the round one pick and has turned into what I would call a dog.  He came on slowly but has become one of the leaders on defense with his play and his vocality but he was the lone wolf of that class.

In 2015, Damarious Randall was added and he has some attitude in him but injuries and inconsistent play haven't allowed him to establish that reputation full time.  You can argue that fullback Aaron Ripkowski has some attitude in him if you want, but I don't put him in the "dog" category quite yet.  That's all 2015 has to show.

Last year, the Packers took defensive lineman Kenny Clark in round one.  Clark has the potential to become Daniels' true counterpart on the defensive front and 2017 will likely tell that story.  The other picks have yet to rise up and claim the "attitude" label.  

Jump to 2017.  The Packers added tight end Martellus Bennett in free agency.  Bennett is an immediate dog to add not only to the locker room, but to the offensive side of the ball.  With last year's loss of Sitton and the recent departure of Lang, that left left tackle David Bakhtiari as the only real "tough guy" on offense.  We can debate Jordy Nelson.  He's got fire in him, but does he have true attitude?  You tell me.

Another free agency add was defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois, who brings the fire.  Before the draft even began, the Packers had already added a good amount of nasty with experience.  Then came offensive lineman Jahri Evans who plays with a mean streak of his own.  Before our eyes, the Packers, at least on paper, were quickly becoming the guy you don't want to mess with in the school yard.

The 2017 rookie class has yet to don pads and show who they really are on the field.  But in cornerback Kevin King and running back Jamaal Williams, the Packers appear to have added some more fire.  Linebacker Vince Biegel was a fiery guy at Wisconsin.  

This Packers team, based on the comments by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, know they're close to finishing the deal and getting to another Super Bowl.  Attitude and mentality is such a big part of football and finally, the Packers are poised to bring that element to their game.  Perhaps that edge will help them get over the hump and not walk off the field with their heads hung when all is said and done.

 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (71) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

PackEyedOptimist's picture

Wow. Feel free to judge people who have worked hard enough to make it into the NFL, through the practices, the injuries, the mental demands, the sacrifices of free time in college, etc. and imply they are not "Tough."
What are you basing these judgements on? Broadcasters who hype up certain players as "tough" or "dogs?" Obvious grand-standing poses/glares etc.?

There are countless "tough guys" who fail in the NFL. Give me "successful" in whatever form it comes.

Razer's picture

I agree PackEyedOptimist. I don't know who would call us soft at the end of last year. Hobbled and depleted might describe the team but the Packers played with grit and heart. Perhaps Jason meant to say we were soft on talent given who we were starting at LB and CB.

jasonperone's picture

I'm talking about attitude vs. toughness. Of course these guys are tough, they play professional football. But some guys bring a different brand of it and that's what I'm referring to.

Finwiz's picture

Jason - very, very good article, and the point is totally understood on this end. One can only hope the Packers somehow get wind of this and read it.
I doubt anything would change, but one can only hope.

The TKstinator's picture

Just win, baby.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"Wow. Feel free to judge people"

If they put themselves on TV they open their actions and on the field performance to public scrutiny. All of them choose it and can go back to private life any time they choose.

Finwiz's picture

Jeremyjjbrown - EXACTLY! These are public figures, paid performers, no different than movie actors, they just perform a different type of art.
Public pays, public critiques the performance for the dollar spent.
The way it is.

WKUPackFan's picture

There is a difference between critiquing physical performance on the field and speculating about a player's attitude. Field performance can be judged (to a certain extent) by watching the game. Attitude cannot be judged similarly.

You pay to be entertained by the game. Paying a ticket price or cable fee doesn't grant a right to speculate about a player's attitude or toughness.

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

If a sportswriter doesn'tmake some judgments on the team, then that writer becomes nothing more than a team employee reeling off stats.

Nick Perry's picture

"They needed to replace the likes of guys like Charles Woodson, Nick Collins, Cullen Jenkins, Desmond Bishop and Jermichael Finley, to name a few."

My biggest grip is and always has been the amount of time it took TT to "Replace" these players he lost. Collins was lost in week 2 of 2011. Bishop was lost in the first preseason game of 2012. Finley was lost in 2013 and Jenkins after winning the SB in 2010.

Sure there were some attempts in late rounds to replace these guys and HOW do you ever just replace a Charles Woodson, but there's normally there's been a long period of time that's passed before Ted tried to replace them.

This year TT used FA a lot more and IMO used it well. He improved the Packers at TE. He signed RJF to help on the D-Line while Guion serves suspension #2 and maybe longer if he's cut. He went out and signed Evans to cushion the loss of Lang. Had he not been this active in FA, the TE and Guard positions would have had to be addressed in the draft. By using FA Ted was able to address some real needs on this team. If they gained a little "Attitude" along the way all the better.

Ted has had a hell of an offseason this year, at least when compared to most. He replaced a few starters and added some depth all WITHOUT breaking the bank. Where has THIS TT been the last several seasons?

Ryan Graham's picture

My immediate thought is Ted doesn't have the wheel anymore. He's now in the passenger seat letting Eliot Wolfe drive. Ted has his input no doubt, but call me Sue if Wolf isn't in charge.

Razer's picture

What are you basing this on Sue?

jeremyjjbrown's picture

OMG, Ted put together his team! He hired Wolf.

1. He listens to this reports.
2. He respects their opinions.
3. Most of these decisions are group decisions, not just Ted.

Nick Perry's picture

Sue?? I think Wolf had quite a bit more input this offseason, especially in Free Agency, but I don't think he's driving the car, at least not yet. TT is signed through 2018 but with the number of Free Agents they've added it almost feels like this is Ted swinging for the fence so he can walk aways from GM duties after this year as a champion. Bennett was what I'd call a major FA addition, but when you add in House, RJF, Evans, and Kendricks he's already added more FA than he has the entire decade.

I still think this is Ted's last season as GM in GB. He'll finish his contract up next season as a draft consultant/super scout AND hopefully with another Lombardi Trophy or two.

chugwater's picture

It could be that Ted is deviating from his normal tendencies given the possibility of retirement next year, but I tend to think there's a simpler explanation.

Contract expirations were higher than normal this year and he knew the draft wouldn't cover all of the needs. Lang, Jones, Cook, Lacy, Peppers, Perry, and Sitton (before being cut) were all URFA. That's a much higher turnover rate than in recent years. He had to dip into free agency to help out.

I don't necessarily think he would have done anything differently if he were to have 2-3 years left on his contract.

RCPackerFan's picture

I'm not going to lie. That has crossed my mind as well.

It just seems odd that all of a sudden he signs more FA's then he ever has.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Maybe he learned? Maybe he got lucky and guy fitting their criteria are available? Maybe it's Olivia Munn's fault? :P

croatpackfan's picture

OK, Sue. I think you just got it wrong. It is question of availability. You can not sign good FA if there is not available one. Availability includes adequate price.
What fans are willing to call "help" or "must sign" in 95% times those players failed for teams which signed them - either because of season ending injuries, because they were washed up or something else. You can check that in the past 10 years how high profile FA finished after signed that rich contracts.
But, many never learn...

Ryan Graham's picture

Hey, I'll take that. All I'm saying is an old dog like Thompson doesn't learn new tricks. He may be going "all in" that's possible, but it's just so out of character for him to do so. Part of me believes it was a negotiating tactic from Murphy to keep Wolf around after all the opportunities he's passed up now.

jasonperone's picture

DPF, you're certainly qualified to recognize dumb. But I think you missed the mark here. Disagree, fine but debate it civilly. Here, you're the kid in the back of class jealous of those with decent ideas/questions. You know, you can choose not to say anything if you don't like something or don't agree vs. posting petulant one liners, right?

Bearmeat's picture

Jason,

Ignore him or boot him. That's the only effective option.... although I personally would enjoy watching the boot... :P

jasonperone's picture

That's Al's department. Share your feedback if you're so inclined. I can assure you, however, he'll be back under a different surname

dobber's picture

I wonder if Cow is floating around here somewhere...

Nick Perry's picture

Other sites are able to do it just fine. Just ask how APC did it once a few years ago.

dobber's picture

It was pretty dumb when I suggested it a couple months ago, too.

...and I agree: in retrospect, I don't see any way that Wolf is the puppeteer behind the screen right now. It's one thing to say that TT is now taking a greater interest in the mentoring of one of his junior colleagues into a GM role. Or to say that Wolf has become 1b to his 1a in terms of how decisions are being made (namely that a greater degree of conversation is now happening between the two of them before anything happens), but TTs name is still the one on the dotted line. He's the one who is ultimately answerable to critics, fans and the media (as if he really ever was), but more importantly, the organization (which I think is important to him), regarding these decisions. It's his legacy that ultimately is under fire here. I wouldn't want to be rubberstamping the decisions of a noob and have to take the heat for them if they turn out to be garbage.

Tundraboy's picture

You know I had totally forgotten about Cow. Wonder when he will reappear.

Handsback's picture

I agree Nick Perry, replacing Woodson, Collins (in particular), Jenkins, and Bishop has been the Packer's biggest problem. Collins, and Jenkins in the season after the SB win was devastating and Bishop the year after and then Woodson the year after that. My memory of a rookie UDFA OLB trying to chase Kapernick in one of his scrambles during the playoffs will stay with me a long time. BTW, the OLB also had a bad leg so he was limping while running after him.

For the first time I see enough strength and depth that this defense can rise up and challenge for a deep playoff run. I wish TT had been able to do all of this sooner as well.

The TKstinator's picture

I'm thinking it took time to replace those guys because players like those aren't easily found.

dobber's picture

You win the thread, TK!

The TKstinator's picture

Thank you, dobber!

Nick Perry's picture

There's a HUGE difference between trying to replace a player and ignoring the position altogether. It's not difficult to go back and look at the drafts after those players were injured or just plain left because TT either lowballed them or didn't offer a contract at all. Go back and look at who was drafted and when after Collins, Bishop, or Finley for example were gone.

Packer_Pete's picture

"They needed to replace the likes of guys like Charles Woodson, Nick Collins, Cullen Jenkins, Desmond Bishop and Jermichael Finley, to name a few."
Well, Charles Woodson was one of the best players to ever play in the NFL. Nick Collins may have been the best or at least most talented S to ever play for the Packers. Those 2 alone were perennial All-Stars. Cullen Jenkins was vastly underrated as a DT. There are not many people you could possibly find to replace talent like those players, and typically if you can't find those replacements in the draft, you won't find them in FA either since team are holding on to their stars, as long as they produce. You might find one here of there around the twilight of a career, or if teams don't think a player can't do it anymore. Just like Woodson ended up in GB since nobody else didn't want to sign him anymore...

Bearmeat's picture

*That TT hasn't been under the same pressure to perform or get fired. He lived off the super bowl win until the-game-that-shall-not-be-named 2 Januaries ago. This TT knows his QB is over 30 and probably angry at his roster composition the past few years. This TT has 2 or 3 GM candidates breathing down his neck and a hacked off coaching staff that probably went to Murphy and griped in the offseason. Amazing what a little perform-or-"retire" statement from your boss can change.*

* I have no knowledge of what goes on in 1265 Lombardi behind closed doors. This is entirely conjecture. It's also entertaining. ;)*

ORIGINAL PACKATTACK's picture

PackEyedOptimist what he is saying is there is tough and then there is mean tough. As a Marine I can say all Marines are tough but some are mean tough. A great example are Bart Starr or Brett- no one questioned there toughness- but who would u rather get hit by, them or someone like Ray Nitschke or Bryce Paup. They make players fear being hit. Unlike Barnett or even Clay: I have never heard an opposing player say they regret carrying the ball and being tackled by Barnett or Clay

Razer's picture

Did you watch Clay Matthews crush the QB - jar the ball loose - pursue the ball - drop the RB and recover the fumble. What more intensity do you want? Clay doesn't slow for anyone - bad example.

Would Packer fans feel better about the toughness of their defense if they had a bunch of Burfict Vontaze on the roster. Don't confuse toughness and talent. Good football players make it tough and you feel it.

RCPackerFan's picture

That is still one of my favorite plays of the year.

RCPackerFan's picture

One area in which the Packers seemed to really try to get more attitude is at RB.
Lacy would run guys over but Starks pretty much tried to bounce everything outside and run away from people.

All 3 of the RB's that they drafted this past weekend run with an attitude.

This can be especially said for Mays. All the video's I have seen of him, he tries to run guys over. He is definitely a physical RB.

The TKstinator's picture

Mays might also be the most physically gifted of the three. Eager to see how RB shakes out, but regardless, every team needs more than one who can get it done.

Since '61's picture

Defensive football is about attitude and it should be a nasty attitude. Except for Daniels and a player or two along the way our defense has lacked nasty attitude for a long time. The poor tackling that we've seen for too long is a symptom of a poor attitude on defense. "Pursuit is the shortest route to the ball carrier and arriving there in bad humor", and "If a man is running down the street with everything you own, you won't let him get away. That's tackling", Vince Lombardi. Quite simply, our defense needs to be more aggressive more consistently. Opposing QBs should be shaky in the pocket against our pass rush, receivers need to be worried about catching passes over the middle rather than running free and open. Opposing RBs should expect to be punished for every yard. And most importantly we need to get off the field when we have the opposing offense in 3rd and long situations. Too many 3rd and longs are converted too often. We need to own that situation on defense. Attitude is a difference maker and you either have it or you don't. It would be great to see if some of our newly acquired FAs and draft picks bring it this season. Thanks, Since '61

dobber's picture

There's a difference between Rex Ryan's "Jets attitude", which is aggressive and dumb, and the Seattle Seahawks attitude, which is fast, aggressive and smart. Nobody likes playing either of those defenses, but I'd take a healthy dose of Seattle attitude in this defense any day.

...and they've gotten a little closer to that with the general athleticism they added to the secondary last week.

Since '61's picture

Dobber I agree. We don't want Rex Ryan's version of aggressive. Thanks, Since '61

WKUPackFan's picture

Agree with DPF here. The old tough and nasty draws a penalty and/or suspension these days.

Brady Poppinga had some interesting observations on the radio regarding tackling issues. Paraphrasing, Brady said that form tackles rarely happen in the NFL. The offensive guys are too fast, quick, and skilled. Brady related a story where Urlacher was asked to demonstrate a proper form tackle on a TV set. Urlacher said something to the extent of "You're about to see something that you rarely see in a game".

The TKstinator's picture

Or maybe successful defenses APPEAR tough and nasty because they swarm, tackle well, and get off the field on 3rd down. That is not to say that my administration is opposed in any way to a totally kick ass defense.

I also wonder, if the head coach is an offensive minded guy, can his teams EVER appear to be defensive minded, nasty, hell bent for leather, ruthless, bloodthirsty, etc etc etc? Just asking!!

Lphill's picture

My thoughts are we don't have many players on defense that offensive players fear besides maybe Clay and Daniels we could use a few more "dogs " , as far as TT , say hello to the next GM of the Vikings . They will sell their souls to have him.

DThomas's picture

What a confused opening post. Datone Jones was tough - where was the evidence of that? HHCD and Randall are tough - or "dogs"? Seems very arbitrary to me. All that I've seen, read, and heard of Bennett tells me he's very talented, but is he a "tough guy"? And who gives a crap whether or not Jordy is a tough guy? He's a great WR when healthy. The knock on King is his tackling but he "has fire"?

Thompson's contract expires next season and I'd like to see him retire and let someone else take the helm. Not because I think he's been bad but I think it's time to get someone with a more aggressive MO in place. But there's no evidence to suggest Eliot Wolf has taken over at this point.

holmesmd's picture

Bennett & his brother are 2 of the meanest guys in the NFL. I read an article where they grew up fighting other guys constantly and never lost! You may recall that Bennett almost killed Fuller in TC a few years ago when he was with the Bears. Both brothers are silly acting but don't get it twisted, I don't think there are many guys in the league that would fight the Bennett brothers?! Just sayin. They're also both giants...which helps.:/

Worztik's picture

I don't like the term "dog" as it's used here!!! It brings back nauseous feelings of M Vick's 2nd/part-time job... sad and sick!!! I like the Marine speak here... all these players are "TOUGH" as in they'd kick all our skinny (?) asses!!! What we need is "ATTITUDE" that says, "This is my area of the field and if ya venture in, I'll kick your... butt"!!! Dog sounds like ghetto speak and it sucks!!! Daniels isn't a dog... he's a very tough, intelligent, can be mean football player that I love to watch and have as a GBP!!! Call him a Velociraptor if you need a name to describe a good football player... that'd get my attention!!! Just sayin'...

Worztik's picture

DThomas... you said it well!!! I agree with your way of thinking!

jasonperone's picture

I hear what you're saying and I'm certainly not trying to use a divisive term. I've had dogs as pets before and love animals. I have a respect for their loyalty to their owner (or in the case of wild dogs/wolves, their pack) and their spirit to protect. Police use dogs all the time to help them fight crime. Some dogs are meant to be K-9 and some aren't. In that sense, I use the term "dog" to describe a player's mentality on the field. Beyond this and if it's still ghetto, that's fine. I can't promise I won't use the term again.

Worztik's picture

Jason... I wasn't getting down on you for your use of the term by any means! I hear it used all the time and I understand the reference as relates to toughness in sports in general. I was just trying to give a thumbs up to all of our furry buddies that are such a huge part of our daily lives!!! I've spent "Too much time in the dog house" not to realize how words matter! Keep up the good work, buddy...

jasonperone's picture

Good points! Thank you sir!

Bedrock's picture

I think Mr. Perone is simply using vernacular common to describe NFL players. Semantics. I understand what you're saying. The term CAN be offensive if one chooses to TAKE offense. But Mr. Perone didn't intend the offense, it was taken.
Ironic, however, that an article on toughness and attitude, some may be offended by language. ;)
We both know, as you wrote above, Mr. Perone is careful with his wording.

Worztik's picture

You too '61...

Spock's picture

I think we, as fans, sometimes project what we perceive as attitude or toughness without really knowing what is going on in the players mind. Even if we accept Jason's "dog" idea the players mentioned seems pretty arbitrary to me ("left tackle David Bakhtiari as the only real "tough guy" on offense". What, no love for Lindsey? He's not "tough"?) Anyways, I firmly believe we will visually see some toughness on the field this year. Remember Forrest Gregg's "tough guys"? Thugs was a better description. It was a sad time to be a Packers fan (smashing McMann's shoulder into the ground well after the whistle, "hit lists" on the Packer players wrist bans, etc.). I want to see hard hitting (think Brice last season) done legally. I always remember the CB who got blood on his nose after every hit (forget his name just now), he might of been "tough" or a "dog" but he always hit the WR AFTER they caught the ball. I like the new additions but don't think the "toughness" thing is really an important "thing". Just win baby! IMHO.

Bedrock's picture

Chuck Cecil? Safety? I'm almost too young for that. Rumor was he's cut the bridge of his nose with a razor blade. Tough or crazy?

I don't think the list Mr. Perone used is all inclusive. Without the article being massively longer, many ideas could be included.

I like Since '61's quotes. Who, on this defense, arrives angry? Nick Perry did that to Luck and got 15yds and a fine. Crazy. Arrive angry, but hit the strike zone.

ON a side note, somebody help me understand the "devalued position of ILB" with the almost yearly complaint the Pack cannot cover the middle of the field?

Worztik's picture

Good memory bedrock... you're NEVER TOO YOUNG!!!

Nick Perry's picture

LOL.... Crazy right? Is it just a coincidence the Packers won the SB when they had a strong ILB on the field like Bishop? Is it another coincidence the Packers defense has been leaking in the middle since he's been gone? I don't think so.

Worztik's picture

I'm quite certain Mr. Cecil is to whom you refer... (whoa...)... and, if I remember correctly, he was labeled a "dirty player" and almost kicked out of the league!!! Memory check here; I believe he was a safety out of either AZ or AZ State.. . Just sayin'...

Since '61's picture

Worztik - Chuck Cecil played Safety for the Packers. He was out of AZ, not AZ State. He made the cover of SI in either '92 or '93 with the headline, "Is Chuck Cecil too vicious for the NFL?" MM should lock the Packers defense in a room and make them watch film of Chuck Cecil and/or Nitschke and keep them in there until they get it. Then we'd see some attitude from the Packers defense. In today's game there is too much fraternizing with the enemy. Thanks, Since '61

Worztik's picture

'61... if any player took the "HEADHUNTER" approach that Cecil did, he'd be out of "today's" league within 2-3 games... maybe just 1... just sayin'...

jasonperone's picture

What's funny here is that you said the same thing that I did in the piece: we haven't seen any of these rookies play yet. But you didn't want to "bsck (sic) it up" with something I said because it's more fun to be adversarial so you just pretended that it wasn't written. Or was this another time you just skimmed the content? Gotchya, dude! :)

Worztik's picture

Peppers told him to "get down" as I clearly remember!!!!!

jasonperone's picture

Simmons was in a category of his own. He was straight up mental! Picked a fight with Reggie in the locker room. Always had that crazy look in his eyes

jasonperone's picture

I'm not talking about the Simmons the person because I didn't know him. This is about players on the field. I'm not into speculating on NFL players outside the lines. Loved Simmons for what he did and his contributions to a championship Packers team

jasonperone's picture

Not sure if you gathered (or care) but we agree on Simmons. I never said it was odd. You're drawing your own conclusions. If you just read the words I use, it will make life a lot less stressful for you and, subsequently, the rest of us.

Markus Hall's picture

Real Packer fans know this D has lacked toughness in the trenches since 2010. Barnett Hawk and the rest of the MLB besides Bishop were not thumpers or tone setters. The safety's have been weak except Ha Ha. Burnett has shown toughness in the last 3 years but I will never forget him sliding in Seattle. Ed Reed is still running if that was him.

Worztik's picture

My last comment was supposed to be a reply to Mr Hall...

Markus Hall's picture

Yea i will never forget it. When he went down I was screaming at home! That play cost the Pack a Super Bowl berth. Not the blown assignment on the fake field goal by Hawk or the missed onside. It was the Peppers Burnett play

Worztik's picture

Me too!!! AHHHHHHHH...

EdsLaces's picture

The more i think about this team the more I love the roster..

Worztik's picture

YUP!!!!!!!

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