Green and Bold: Ricky Jean Francois Could Play Crucial Role with Packers

When the Green Bay Packers signed veteran defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois to a one-year deal on March 23, it appeared to be a solid but unflashy addition to bolster depth on the defensive line.  However, as the season inches closer, the possibility that Jean Francois will make considerable contributions in 2017 continues to grow.

When the Green Bay Packers signed veteran defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois to a one-year deal on March 23, it appeared to be a solid but unflashy addition to bolster depth on the defensive line. 

However, as the season inches closer, the possibility that Jean Francois will make considerable contributions in 2017 continues to grow.

While there's no question 28-year-old defensive end Mike Daniels is the king of the Packers defensive line, Jean Francois, 30, has a unique opportunity to provide leadership to his young teammates in second-year players Dean Lowry and Kenny Clark, as well as 25-year-old Christian Ringo.

There's a world in which 10-year NFL veteran Letroy Guion would be in line for significant snaps this season and would be able to team with Daniels to provide mentorship to the relatively young players on the line; however, with Guion suspended for the first four games of the season (his second in three seasons) and now dealing with yet another offseason arrest, there's suddenly a greater opportunity for Jean Francois than there was back in March when he was signed. 

As a result, the scope of the role he could play in the season ahead has widened considerably.

To start, he already seems to have Daniels' approval.

Daniels spoke to Stu Courtney of USA Today Network-Wisconsin about Jean Francois' opportunity to step in and provide leadership:

"Ricky, he just comes from such a strong defensive coach [Vic Fangio] over there in San Francisco," Daniels said. "Those guys, they were big, they were mean, tough and nasty. But they played together. I think with the guys we have here, that’s really something that’s growing as well, some true leadership on our side of the ball, and a little more true ownership and guys that want to be the best. And that’s something I think he’s brought over here, just that mentality."

Daniels added, "He’s good for our room and he does things the right way. He shows the young guys the ropes."

Whether or not the Packers keep Guion on the 53-man roster in 2017, it's clear that he's not doing things "the right way." That certainly opens the door wider for Jean Francois, who is well aware of the unique opportunity he has to come into an established team that gives deference to youth like the Packers:

“To get that phone call that the Green Bay Packers want you is rare,” said Jean Francois. “It’s rare that you see them go outside and pick guys up and if they do, it’s for a reason.

"On the first day of meetings when all the new guys stand up, I’m used to seeing like five or six guys stand up and there were only three guys to stand up. I’m blessed to get picked up.”

Leadership and experience are all well and good, but the defensive line is in need of an injection of talent. Jean Francois can provide that, too, perhaps even better than Guion can.

Per STATS, in the last two seasons, Jean Francois had 3.5 sacks, 13 hurries, and six stuffs in 826 snaps. Guion, by contrast, had zero sacks, 7.5 hurries, and eight stuffs in 774 snaps (h/t Packer Report's Bill Huber).

There's no question that the Packers offense is expected to be championship-caliber in 2017, especially with the recent additions of tight ends Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks and Ty Montgomery heading into his first full-time season at running back. 

The defense, however, is another story. Right now, it's a huge question mark, with the potential to hinder the Packers yet again from reaching the Super Bowl. 

After all, Green Bay finished No. 8 in total offense in 2016...and No. 22 in total defense. Of course, the front seven is hardly entirely to blame; Green Bay had the second-worst pass defense in the league last season. 

Daniels knows that all too well, and his determination to whip his unit into shape is, in a word, intense:

"I’ve been in the playoffs every year, been to two NFC Championship games, been in divisional games, and I know this team can get there, it’s just a matter of making sure we all can believe we can get there," Daniels told Mike Spofford of Packers.com. 

But Daniels can't do it alone. He'll need help. The onus is on Lowry and Clark to make strides in their sopomore seasons, but Daniels needs another veteran presence. Jean Francois could be the answer, if he rises to the occasion. 

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Comments (18)

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Lphill's picture

July 05, 2017 at 06:21 am

I think this was a good signing , the guy is excited about being on a contender , bringing in vets like this to work with the younger guys is very important . I think it pays off big time.

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Nick Perry's picture

July 05, 2017 at 06:45 am

Not only do I think he might be a better all around player than Guion, he'll be available for all 16 games to start the season. This was a smart move by Thompson and is looking even better after Guion's getting himself arrested yet again. The Packers needed another veteran presence on the D-Line and RJF provides that.

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The TKstinator's picture

July 05, 2017 at 07:14 am

Perhaps TT did this partly because he was anticipating another transgression from Guion.

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The TKstinator's picture

July 06, 2017 at 11:14 am

Or to put it another way: protecting the team in case of a Letroy transgression, since Guion had already shown a propensity for such.

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croatpackfan's picture

July 05, 2017 at 07:12 am

Michelle, you do not expect M. Adams to be on 53? Or you do not count him as DL?
Ah, maybe he do not need veteran leadership...

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mnbruton's picture

July 05, 2017 at 09:06 am

Believe it or not, Montravius Adams remains unsigned. When he signs his contract, I'll start featuring him more prominently in discussions of the defensive line next season.

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RCPackerFan's picture

July 05, 2017 at 10:31 am

I am really looking forward to seeing what Adams brings.

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croatpackfan's picture

July 05, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Thanks for answering the questions! That is nice from you.
I know he did not sign contract yet. Last year all draft picks signed their contracts 2 days after draft or? What is the options for Adams? He will not sign the contract and what? He wish to be out of NFL already?
I do not understand. He is Packers player. He was not in Green Bay when contract was prepared and he will sign the contract before TC begins. Every season one or two drafted player(s) sign their contracts mid summer.

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croatpackfan's picture

July 06, 2017 at 02:19 am

There is report, official (and on Cheeseheadtv, too), that M. Adams signerd with Packers same day you claimed he is not signed...

Well, thank God you did not bet with me... ;-)))

This is little joke - no hard feelings...

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RCPackerFan's picture

July 05, 2017 at 07:43 am

I really like the signing of Francois. This is the type of veteran signing that will prove to be a great one. Similar to the signing of Ryan Pickett. Much like that year when they signed Pickett, they also signed Woodson who was the much bigger name. Just like that year, there are more attractive names that the Packers signed this year. Namely Bennett/Kendricks.
But the Francois signing could end up being one of the best signings they made. Even if he doesn't start (typically they play 2 DL) he will play a lot of snaps and will provide some really good stability along the DL, especially with the real possibility of Guion moving on.

This was definitely a great signing!

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Handsback's picture

July 05, 2017 at 07:48 am

RJF will bring a presence that the Packer's were looking to come from Pennel, but never got it. That is a very strong hard to root out wide body that shuts down the run game and keeps those ILB clean. Also bringing some pressure during the passing game. Green Bay has gotten better in their Dline over the past few years, but this guy, Mt. Adams, and the 2nd year players may surprise many with what they will be able to accomplish.

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snowdog's picture

July 05, 2017 at 12:06 pm

Mt . Adams .. I like it .lol

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snowdog's picture

July 05, 2017 at 12:13 pm

Maybe he can play next to Mt.Rushmore!

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Handsback's picture

July 06, 2017 at 07:21 am

Maybe Mt. Adams will morph into Mt. Rushmore!

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Spock's picture

July 05, 2017 at 08:10 am

Michelle, you are one of my favorite writers on CHTV! I always enjoy your thoughtful insights into subjects that seem to get overlooked by the more "mainstream" publications. I agree that the Ricky Jean Francois signing could be as meaningful as the big name guys. The fact that he is humble, hungry, and endorsed by Mike Daniels gets me pretty stoked. I can't wait for the training camp, preseason, and regular season to get here. I just have a 'feeling' that this year will be special.

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Pikeman's picture

July 05, 2017 at 08:56 am

One of my all-time favorite players is William Henderson. His inspiration on the field and in the locker room was amazing. I have all the same accolades for Mike Daniels. That being said Mike is not big enough and fast enough to be effective in the pass rush. He is effective in the rushing defense. For the outside rush to be effective there has to be surge in the middle. For Mike to be effective he needs help. I don't think Guion is the answer. I don't know enough about RJF. I thought for sure we would get something in the draft. Alas TT thought better.

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The TKstinator's picture

July 05, 2017 at 09:34 am

Montravius?

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Mojo's picture

July 05, 2017 at 10:53 am

Considering how often the Pack go with two or three legit d-lineman on any given play they only really need six on the final 53. They might even get away with five.

Daniels, K Clark, Lowry, M. Adams and RJF are all but locks. I'd like maybe one more to help give Daniels more breathers, maybe Ringo or Price.

As far as RJF he doesn't look over 310 pounds, but I guess he is. Like his attitude, seems to be a middle of the pack d-lineman which isn't bad for a rotational guy. Good depth pickup by TT for not a lot of cash.

Now with the new rules on celebrations I'm wondering if they'll let RJF to his full PB&J dance.

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