Packers Daily Links: Jennings Sees Single Coverage

Greg Jennings is surprisingly seeing a lot of single coverage. That and more in today's Daily Links...

Greg Jennings is the  topic du jour. Seemingly every media outlet in Wisconsin yesterday featured Jennings' amazing turnaround this season. ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert attempted to find out why he's having so much success, seeing a lot of single-man coverage despite teams typically not playing eight in the box against the Packers. "Packers coach Mike McCarthy is getting as many receivers on the field as possible -- to flood the zone, so to speak," writes Seifert. "The Packers lead the NFL in five-receiver sets, and they've used three receivers on 423 of their 732 plays this season, the eighth-highest total in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information." And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Make sure to read the rest of the article for the secrets to Jennings' success.

And then check out the other Jennings features in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Green Bay Press-Gazette and Wisconsin State Journal.

The decision to use Tramon Williams on punt returns is criticized by Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "The reward for Williams’ return skills isn’t worth the risk," writes Vandermause. "He has emerged as a top-flight cornerback and is too valuable to lose to a needless injury." Hasn't the train on this topic left the station yet? I understand this argument back in September, but the fact is Williams has protected the ball this season and none of the other options are any more appealing. Live with it and hopefully it's rectified next season.

The Packers' success on third downs is attributed to solid play by quarterback Aaron Rodgers. "What a difference a month can make," writes Tom Fanning of the Packers' official website. "Over the past four games, Rodgers leads all NFL quarterbacks with a 149.7 third-down rating, connecting on 24-of-33 passes (72.7 percent) for five touchdowns and zero interceptions with an average of 11.4 yards per attempt. He completed six passes of 25-plus yards on third down in the last four contests compared to just two passes of that length in the first eight games." Also noted is how the Packers' have jumped twenty spots in third-down conversion rate from no. 26 to no. 6 over that span. That's amazing!

Attention is also brought to Rodgers' success running the football this season. "When his 11 kneel-downs at the end of first halves or at the end of games from the victory formation are removed, Rodgers has actually gained 295 yards on 42 carries, a 7.0-yard average," writes Jason Wilde of ESPNWisconsin. Rodgers is–and has been for a couple seasons–one of the best running quarterbacks in the NFL, an underrated aspect of the Packers offense.

More from the improvement department, Packers receivers are seeing more "YAC" yards (yards after the catch) over the past couple weeks. Before the bye, the Packers reportedly ranked 15th in the NFL in that category. "But over their last three games, the Packers have climbed six spots in the league rankings, all the way up to No. 9 at 1,527," writes Mike Spofford of Packers.com. "That’s a big jump to make this late in the season, but the Packers don’t look at it as doing anything special. It’s the way things are supposed to work." And it's not just coming from the wide receivers. Brandon Jackson is doing his part too.

The Packers have a long line of players eligible for free agency next season. So who's next to sign a contract extension? "The only player whose agents are known to have engaged in contract talks with the team is Bishop, who ranks second on the team in tackles with 85 entering Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Bishop, who took over as a starter after Nick Barnett was lost for the season with a wrist injury, acknowledged that he would like to sign an extension but isn’t sure whether anything will get done anytime soon." Bishop should probably receive the highest priority, but Cullen Jenkins is up there as well.

Rookie defensive lineman Mike Neal apparently injured his shoulder much more seriously than anyone had realized. “I had completely ripped my rotator cuff off my shoulder, and I partially tore my labrum. It was pretty bad,” Neal told Jason Wilde. “When they MRI’ed it, it was a partial tear, and then after the surgery, the doctor was like, ‘It was 10 times worse than we thought it was. It was amazing that you had that much strength.’" The Packers will need Neal next year so he'll need to heal up well.

Punter Tim Masthay was complimented by special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum for his first performance in cold weather last week. "Special-teams coaches judge their punter’s performance in part by how their punter performed compared with the opponent’s in the same conditions, and San Francisco punter Andy Lee was no better," writes Pete Dougherty of the Press-Gazette. "The seventh-year pro hit five punts and had a gross average of 47.2 yards and a net average of 32.4 yards." The poor hang time was the biggest problem.

Initial indications are that Atari Bigby won't play Sunday. "This time around, the coaches have to decide whether to bring him back for an artificial turf game or wait another week for grass at New England," writes Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel. "Bigby said he did not work any special teams in practice, which is usually a sign if a player is going to be active, but he said he was cleared so late in the morning that he didn't have a chance to get into the rotation." Things can change but one day of practice isn't typically enough for a player to be active (unless you're Clay Matthews).

Wayne Larrivee weighs in on the Lions game.

Trap games: fact or fiction by Ol' Bag of Donuts.

Warnings of a silent count by Lions come from Meat Packers Union.

Packers Christmas memories are at Green Bay Packer Nation.

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Comments (18)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Chad Toporski's picture

December 10, 2010 at 08:23 am

Do you see any significant possibility of Shields handling punt returns next season after beginning to get comfortable on kick returns this year?

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Matt Merritt's picture

December 10, 2010 at 10:07 am

Getting comfortable is a pretty big "if" IMO. Dear God, I don't think my heart could take it w/ him back there.

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WoodyG's picture

December 10, 2010 at 09:35 am

" The decision to use Tramon Williams on punt returns is criticized by Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. "

Vandy .... No doubt .... Dusted off an old story ...... Removed C. Woodson's name & inserted T. Williams' name ..... It's what you do when you have a story due & you're lazy ....

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PackerAaron's picture

December 10, 2010 at 09:44 am

I thought the exact same thing when I saw the headline. And I don't even think he reached THAT far back. I think he wrote close to the same thing when Blackmon was released.

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WoodyG's picture

December 10, 2010 at 10:06 am

This is probably the article you're referring to .....

http://packersnews.greenbaypressgazette.com/article/20100904/PKR07/10090...

" The Packers’ two best remaining punt returners – Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson – are also the starting cornerbacks and can’t risk getting hurt on special teams. "

I'm sure he wrote about Woodson back in 2007 also but haven't found the link yet .....

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PackerAaron's picture

December 10, 2010 at 10:22 am

Yeah, I remember that as well. There was lots of "the sky is falling!" type stuff when Woodson was back there.

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WoodyG's picture

December 10, 2010 at 10:39 am

You just flat out don't 'appreciate' Vandy, do you?

http://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/vandermause-at-it-again

Curious thing about that blog from 2008 ...... 0 (zero) comments ..... WTH.

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PackerAaron's picture

December 10, 2010 at 10:50 am

Never been a fan, no. And yes, those were the good ol days when no one read my stuff. ;)

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pittpackers's picture

December 10, 2010 at 11:19 am

Compared to your recent article about rodgers showing his emotions and the flood of comments that followed, it is interesting to see how things change in two years.
Aaron, your not gonna leave us now that you're 'big time' like Pelissero did, are you? I'm just playin', sorry Tom.

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Jer's picture

December 10, 2010 at 12:40 pm

I'm ok with Williams returning punts, but just wish he'd be a little "safer" in the way he does it. Just get the yards you can and then run out of bounds or go down. Don't dance around trying to break one. When he gets all twisted up by 5 defenders, I get a littler nervous to say the least.

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thepretzelhead's picture

December 10, 2010 at 01:28 pm

Those are Hester tricks and they work. And since he's back there anyway...damn the torpedos and try to take one to the house. He's been close.

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Browne's picture

December 10, 2010 at 12:53 pm

I wonder if letting Tramon field punts was part of the reason he entered into contract talks with the Pack.

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PackerAaron's picture

December 10, 2010 at 01:01 pm

I would tend to doubt it. He wanted to talk contract this past summer, before he was the returner, but the Packers wouldn't talk.

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PackersRS's picture

December 10, 2010 at 01:06 pm

I don't know what confuses me more: Vandermause critiquing the Packers or the fact that people still read what he writes.

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dgtalmn's picture

December 10, 2010 at 03:08 pm

Winning blog post of the day.

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bomdad's picture

December 10, 2010 at 01:34 pm

The Packers are not the first or the last team that will use a star CB as a PR. Deion Sanders comes to mind first, as far as a championship teams doing it.

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dgtalmn's picture

December 10, 2010 at 03:10 pm

OK I do remember when a team put there #1 DB to return a kick-off or punt and this was his first time in a long time and he blew out his knee I think. Sorry don't remember his name, I think he was on the Giants. But that sticks in my mind when a see anyone of the Packer's #1s returning punts. We need to get someone to do that and be his primary job.

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Cuphound's picture

December 10, 2010 at 03:30 pm

Just to show how much I appreciate Aaron Rodgers' ability to run the ball, I looked up where he falls in statistical rankings. Rodgers is our #2 running back. He's got Kuhn beat by about 50 yards.

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