Life After John Kuhn

Since 2007, the Shippensburg fullback has been a mogul in Green Bay. Now, that era must come to an end, contrary to popular opinion.

It's no secret that former Steeler-turned-Packer John Kuhn has become a fan favorite in the state of Wisconsin and within the hearts of Cheeseheads all across the world. A respectful, hard-working player who has helped man the fullback position in Green Bay, Kuhn also provided some special teams highlights for nine years. 

You throw in the chemistry with your starting quarterback and the veteran knowledge of your offense, and it just may be gut-wrenching to no longer consider the guy a part of your organization.

Kuhn's impact in the Packers' offense often flies under the radar, much like any fullback in the modern-era NFL. But a prime example of his contributions to the run game and aerial attack can be seen just last season.

Kuhn didn't see much of the ball, let alone the field itself through the first few weeks of 2015. His absence was masked by Green Bay's 6-0 start and Aaron Rodgers just playing out of his mind as per-usual. Through weeks 7-11, Kuhn played 13.82% of the offensive snaps, amounting to a grand total of 53 through those five games. 

In that stretch, the Packers went 1-4. 

Once head coach Mike McCarthy relieved offensive coordinator Tom Clements of his play-calling duties which he commandeered through the first 13 weeks, Kuhn was back to playing more of a role in the offense. His rejuvenated season commenced in week 14's contest against Dallas, where his run-blocking and the overall all-pro performance of the offensive line helped the Packers rush for a season-high 230 yards.

Down the final four games of the season, Kuhn played in 52% of Green Bay's offensive snaps, nearly quadrupling the previous percentage. The Packers went 6-1 when Kuhn played in more than 20% of the snaps in games.

Imagining a Green and Gold offense without Kuhn may be rough, but there is a silver-lining: Aaron Ripkowski.

Much like Kuhn, Ripkowski began his career in Green Bay as a special teams standout, bursting onto the scene with a few big open-field tackles in the 2015 preseason opener vs New England. Big plays that earned praise from special teams coordinator Ron Zook. 

"He's the guy we thought he would be. He's a fullback-type guy. He runs well. He's a hard-worker. He's tough. He's a great guy to have."

Initially drafted to uplift the special teams performance - a spot where the Packers ranked near the bottom of the barrel in 2014. Ripkowski's new role may be primarily as the team's starting fullback. A position Ripkowski served at all times throughout his time at Oklahoma. A pure fullback.

Especially if he can do things like this.

 

 

As you can probably tell, Ripkowski serves as a kamikaze-type battering ram, likely due to his first three years at Oklahoma serving as an all-purpose run and pass-blocker. Those qualities and the do-or-die demeanor makes him the perfect big body in the rushing attack and to protect Rodgers, something Kuhn was able to do efficiently.

Kuhn will hit 34-years of age before the Packers take the field in Jacksonville for their season-opener. As the summer rolls along the OTAs dwindle to a close and the hype for minicamp begins, Kuhn's status with the Packers remains uncertain.

Despite the conflicting reports claiming the door is still open and there's mutual interest between both sides, which there may very well be, it would be in the Packers' best interest to politely slam that door shut. If that's what will indeed happen, they'll have a pretty nice option in Ripkowski to fall back on.

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (17)

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Since'61's picture

June 16, 2016 at 06:34 am

Sadly, I am not expecting to see Kuhn return unless Ripkowski is injured or fails to perform. Kuhn gave us some great moments and he will be missed. Thanks, Since '61

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Bearmeat's picture

June 16, 2016 at 07:04 am

Maybe not anymore. It happens to every athlete. But GB absolutely would not have made the playoffs in 2013, nor possibly in 2010 without Kuhn. His smarts saved their butts more than once.

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RCPackerFan's picture

June 16, 2016 at 07:11 am

Yeah, I agree with you.

The only true game that we can say they won because of him was the game against Chicago which he comes across to block Peppers which allowed Rodgers time to find a wide open Cobb for a TD.

Which is my most memorable play from Kuhn.

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Michalske's picture

June 16, 2016 at 08:17 am

I will always remember 2 plays by Kuhn -- the 2013 regular season final of course, and the Bears game in 2010 where he took a dump off pass and it took what looked like the entire Bears defense to stop him, and the pile still moved 3 or 4 hards after 8 or 9 Bears players were in it.

Kuhn was a beast in his day, and a fine person in the community. He can come back to Wisconsin and shoot commercials or host a fund raiser or have a talk show any time. But as a player he should arguably have been replaced in 2014. His day is done and he will now go into the realm of memory where legends belong.

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cuervo's picture

June 16, 2016 at 07:08 am

If I see one more John Kuhn article I will vomit. Kuhn is a good guy and was a good Packer. He's never been anything special, but you always need role players like him on team. His play has diminished significantly the last two years, and not resigning him will have ZERO effect on the Packers offense.
The way he has been consistently written about one would think that he had been something more than an average NFL role player.

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croatpackfan's picture

June 16, 2016 at 08:57 am

He was not average. He was 2 times pro-bowler and has 2 SB rings! Lot of players would kill for that stats!

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lebowski's picture

June 16, 2016 at 10:15 am

There is definitely a bit much being written about a fullback who played sparingly and provided a handful of highlights in 8 years. Move along people.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 17, 2016 at 11:58 am

I don't agree (well - there have been enough articles written now!). Make no mistake, GB functions better with a good FB. I hope Rip can replace Kuhn's valuable contributions. I guess folks need to see a FB/Rip whiff in pass pro, miss or fail to move a DL on a running play, or drop a pass before realizing what a younger Kuhn meant to our offense. I like Rip, but am concerned with the comments from the coaching staff.

It could be that the W/L record and Kuhn's snap counts were coincidental. Just another example of Clement's inability to handle play-calling.

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Tarynfor12's picture

June 16, 2016 at 11:01 am

When does ' The John Kuhn Story ' movie plan on being made....before or after his induction to the Hall of Fame...Canton or Green Bay?

I will admit though, a good football movie, even if enhancements are much needed, will be better than most of the crap being made today. : )

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toolkien's picture

June 16, 2016 at 11:32 am

Don't want to run Kuhn down, but he gets all this love and adoration, yet I don't recall William Henderson getting pretty much ANY. Granted during the reign of He Who Must Not Be Named Though We've Gotten Over It Somewhat With The Number Retirement And Hall Of Fame Induction got all the credit for everything, but Henderson was a reasonably big ingredient for the Packers' general success from 1996-2004. I attribute to Henderson that he was Favre's "scrambling legs". Favre didn't really rush much from around 1999 on, and if he was suddenly in trouble, a dump pass out to Henderson got some yards and prevented sacks. It's part of why Favre's sack % was very low.

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/H/HendWi00.htm

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/K/KuhnJo00.htm

Stat-lines with total "approximate value" (AV) in far right column.

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Evan's picture

June 16, 2016 at 01:35 pm

Can't speak for anyone else, but Henderson is one of my all-time favorites. Maybe I'm just a sucker for a nice, old-school neck roll. Gilbert Brown, too - I wore one in high school because of him.

But Henderson was a total bull, but agile, too - I can still envision him hurdling over would-be tacklers.

http://a3.ec-images.myspacecdn.com/images02/128/c696c313a3e54a9a8ec3a249...

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Tundraboy's picture

June 16, 2016 at 02:01 pm

Henderson was the original unsung hero.

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RCPackerFan's picture

June 16, 2016 at 02:08 pm

LOVED Henderson! He was one of my favorite players.

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Tundraboy's picture

June 17, 2016 at 05:40 pm

"He Who Must Not Be Named Though We've Gotten Over It Somewhat With The Number Retirement And Hall Of Fame Induction"

Lol. Reminds me of Game of Thrones.

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Tundraboy's picture

June 16, 2016 at 02:39 pm

Perhaps if Ripkowski played more last year we would be more comfortable letting go of Kuhn. Will miss him but there always comes a time for change and at some point the team needs to let go of its security blanket. Its time to give someone else a chance and I see no reason anymore to put off Ripkowski's development.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 16, 2016 at 09:27 pm

"Initially drafted to uplift the special teams performance - a spot."

Rip was drafted to replace Kuhn, plain and simple. If he couldn't beat Kuhn out in year one, then he was expected to help on STs, like nearly every other rookie.

I wish we had a positive quote from Rip's offensive position coach, rather than a STs quote. I don't think there is a positive quote from anyone who coaches the offense. MM was not complimentary of Rip at the end of last season. Kuhn may not be back, but I am not sure about equating Kuhn with a security blanket.

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Tundraboy's picture

June 17, 2016 at 08:47 am

See your point on blanket part. I just want to get on with it and see what we have. If we are counting on Kuhn to be a difference maker we have bigger problems. Using as a fall back is too expensive give salary constraints.

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