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Packers Stock Report: Victory Monday with an Eye on the Future

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Packers Stock Report: Victory Monday with an Eye on the Future

Aaron Rodgers was sure to point out that the Packers’ victory over the Falcons on Sunday keeps their playoff hopes alive, and they received a bit of help from other teams along the way.

Playoff hopes, however, may be little more than delusion and desperation at this point. Either way, it feels much better to be having that conversation after a win than pointing fingers after a loss.

The Falcons aren’t a great team, and it would probably be a bit reckless to start declaring some 180-turn of fortunes and outcomes, but Green Bay fielded a different looking team on Sunday against Atlanta.

Maybe the Packers were inspired by Mike McCarthy making his last trip back to Lambeau, delivering a goodbye address to the team on Wednesday. Maybe McCarthy’s firing signaled that no one’s job is safe (Aaron Rodgers excluded). Maybe Joe Philbin was simply able to leverage a bit more from this team. Or perhaps Atlanta is just very bad.

I don’t know what caused the Packers to look a little different Sunday, but I liked what I saw. There are still problems with this team, but it was refreshing to see this group perform a bit better than they have been.

Stock Rising: Buy! Buy! Buy!

Energy and tempo: This was the most noticeable difference with the “new-look” Packers. The Green Bay offense, in particular, had a little more pep in its collective step. The play-calling operations were quick and efficient as well.

I was mildly concerned that the play-calling mechanics would be even more herky-jerky than before, as Philbin joked about how out of practice he was calling plays last week. But plays came in smoothly and in a timely manner.

Aaron Rodgers looked to have an extra measure of energy and competitive file on Sunday, which was refreshing. Rodgers, along with much of the team, had a sleepy vibe for much of the season. At least temporarily, McCarthy’s departure has awakened something in this team.

Third downs: Speaking of refreshing, how great was it to see some converted third downs? The Packers’ offense was 7 for 13 converting third down opportunities, their most efficient performance since the win against Buffalo.

The third down defense was also improved, with Atlanta going 3 for 12. The success on this side of the ball was spoiled a bit by allowing Atlanta to convert all three of its fourth-down attempts, though.

Clay Matthews: I have no idea what the future holds for Matthews. He’s certainly been overpaid for the production and health they’ve gotten from him on this contract. But he’s also much better than the angry mob of fans would lead you to believe.

Matthews is still athletic and strong, and I believe he can still be a contributor.

He’s been a great Packer and is a tone-setter with contagious energy when he’s at his best. I’d love to see him stay in Green Bay for the right price. I have no idea if that kind of deal will work out, but I’m still at least a partial believer in CM3.

Bashaud Breeland: I’d also like to see the Packers try to keep Breeland around next year. I don’t want to get too carried away with one tremendous pick-six, but Breeland has proven to be a valuable addition to a secondary that is now staggering to the finish line, greatly diminished by injuries and front office moves.

As always, free agency is about value, so it’d need to be at the right price. But if a proper deal can be struck, Breeland looks like he could have a promising future in Green Bay, and retaining him could free up Brian Gutekunst to invest more draft capital into the offensive line and pass rush.

Tyler Lancaster: The Northwestern product has officially graduated from, “Who’s No. 95?” to “Hell yeah, Lancaster!” On a defense that’s been desperate for some extra beef with Muhammad Wilkerson and Mike Daniels on IR, Lancaster has been a pleasant surprise.

I could see Lancaster making the team next year as a fifth or sixth defensive lineman, depending on what happens with Mike Pettine and the future of the defensive coordinator’s seat.

Here are some fun facts about Tyler Lancaster: 1. He wore No. 1 in college*. Don’t tell Andy Benoit. 2. His middle name is Coatney. 3. He and I share a birthday. 4. Google search results indicate his weight is 249 pounds which hasn’t been the case in a long time (the Packers list him at 313 pounds). 5. He’s on Twitter at @BigLanny6767.

*Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald awards jersey No. 1 each year to “the young man who truly embodies the values and character of the Northwestern football family.”

Stock Falling: Sell! Sell! Sell!

Offensive line depth: Entering this season, I really thought the Packers’ offensive line could be a team strength. As the year has gone on, however, it’s become clear that only David Bakhtiari and Corey Linsley are guaranteed jobs next year.

With all the other starters healthy and in place, the line has performed well this season, anchored by Bakhtiari and Linsley. But rarely do NFL teams get 16 starts from all five primary linemen. Justin McCray has been a bit of a disappointment this year, and Lucas Patrick and Jason Spriggs haven’t made enough progress to lock down future roster spots.

Whatever circumstances have kept rookie Cole Madison from reporting haven’t helped.  I sincerely hope whatever problem exists is fixed, and I wish the young man the best. I don’t mean to be insensitive by reducing his problems to the roster issues they cause, but it’s pretty clear that the Packers will need to bring in at least two new faces to the offensive line group in 2019.

__________________________

Matt Kelley is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter via @hustleandheart1

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (44) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Lphill's picture

Lancaster is a keeper I think there are 2 other Northwestern players on the roster, if Pettine becomes Head Coach , Larry Fitzgerald can come on as Defensive Coordinator.

hawk1982's picture

Pettine said that he does not want to be head coach again.

JQ's picture

Make that ‘Pat’ Fitzgerald. Larry plays for AZ Cardinals. ( - ; #

That posted, you are correct in that The Packers have two other Wildcat alums in Dean Lowry and recently added fullback, Danny Vitale.

4zone's picture

No way Fitz leaves for a DC gig. HC only.

ILPackerBacker's picture

With all the starters in place the OL has performed well?

What are you metrics?
All throw aways are on Rodgers because every other QB will run or check downs? All the sacks are on Rodgers?

The OL has been average at best and pretty bad at worst. In one start Spriggs outplayed any of Bulaga's games against Vic B. In this start Spriggs played as well or better than Bulaga in any game this year.

Put the hype and cliche on the bench, bring out some analysis and watch the games closer.

Samson's picture

A little rough on the author. -- However, it's difficult to disagree. -- The OL needs a major overhaul before season 2019. -- Presently, they're a weakness & a big reason for the 5-7-1 record.

mkelley's picture

PFF ranks the Packers 2nd in pass blocking. I know they're not perfect, but they're not hacks either.

Also, only 4 of the sacks have been in 2.5 seconds or less. At least 20 QBs have as many or more.

Defensive lines are getting pressure all across the NFL. Use the rest of the league as context and put your bravado and accusations on the bench.

Analysis.

Samson's picture

Analytics -- Gotta love it.
PFF has conned another.

mkelley's picture

Would you prefer me to just say, "Trust me, I watch line play for a living"?

How about Football Outsiders ranking GB 5th in run blocking?

Or is everyone who disagrees with your viewpoint a conman?

Old School's picture

I'm with you, Mkelley. The "I watch" argument as strong an argument as data based analytics.

22 players on the field. You're watching a 50 inch screen. You have two eyes. How many times do you have to watch any one play to see what everybody is doing?

Many, many years ago, I started teaching HS and coaching the freshman football team. The morning after the game, I sat down in a room with about a half-dozen other football coaches who had been doing this for quite a few years at quite a few places and we watched film. Back and forth, frame-by-frame, pointing things out and having things pointed out to us. Nobody sees everything, not even close. Not even if you watch every single play over a couple of times.

Then, there's the issue of comparing the Packers to other teams, and in order to do that, you'd have to watch every play of every game to really be able to do that......unless of course, you have some kind of way of comparing players from different teams. Like statistical rankings.

Not perfect, but a damn sight better than "I watch".

flackcatcher's picture

(sigh) From the beginning of this season the O line was problematic. Depth was the issue. Packers openly talked about the injury problems at tackle and guard and how it effected their roster depth. Bell was a late signing not merely because of the non reporting of that player who's name I just forgot. (ugh) But across the board, players who the Packers counted on this year never recovered from injuries suffered last year. Remember, both the DB and O line was pretty much wiped out last year. Packers had to pick one to rebuild, they choose the secondary. The need was much greater. As for the O line, Spriggs has only just recovered and McCray is still playing with a serious shoulder injury. Frankly McCray should have IR for the year, that's how bad the depth situation is for the packers this year. What happened with injuries last season is still effecting this club and will until next season.

HankScorpio's picture

Where do you draw the line between a pass rush sack and a coverage sack? 4 seconds? More? It's the flip side of not expecting a CB to be able to cover indefinitely. You can't expect an OL to block their guy forever. At some point, the OL has done its job to expectation. That doesn't necessarily mean the ball is out and a sack/QB hit is impossible.

It all goes back to scheme and execution. A scheme of nothing but 7 step drops and deep, slow developing route combos is hard on the o-line. If you add-in a QB that likes to hold the ball looking for the big paly, you're setting up the OL to fail.

Old School's picture

I've commented on that many times this year. Footballoutsiders has consistently rated them as a Top 5 pass blocking group this season, Profootballfocus has them as #2 and individually four of the five starters are rated as above average at their position.

This is a good group of starters that Gutekunst has done NOTHING to improve since he became GM, unless you want to count signing Bell to a cheap deal and drafting a guy in the 4th who hasn't shown up yet. Everybody else....Patrick, Spriggs, Murph, McCray.....are holdovers.

We are fortunate that Bakhtiari, Lane, Linsley and Bulaga have stayed on the field as much as they have. If we'd have had to rely on the backups, we'd be in much worse shape.

Also, we put 5 receivers in the pattern a lot, meaning we're blocking 5 on 4....or in some cases 5 on 5. There are guys on the defensive line of other teams that can occasionally win one-on-one battles. The more you throw, the more likely it is that there turn is coming.

flackcatcher's picture

On the field this is an underrated group. (even Bell) My only complaint is the Packers knew that the time Rogers would have in the pocket would be less than he had enjoyed in the past couple of seasons. I blame both Rodgers and McCarthy for not making the adjustments needed in the play calling to run an effective offense. They knew, and still insisted on running their vertical routes and 'splash 'plays. That it took the firing of McCarthy to add quick slants, skinny posts and short outs is a damming indictment of both men.

flackcatcher's picture

EDIT: ...Rodgers.... (ugh)

Since '61's picture

Our guards have not played well this season. PFF uses a dart board and then applies their own bias to "create" their results. Plus they are there for the FFL players and to con as many subscribers as possible. To say their have their own agenda is a vast understatement.

I value Pro Football Outsiders a bit more. But again they have their own agenda as well. The point is that DCs have realized that they can create interior pressure against our Guards and maintain outside contain on the edge. This prevents Rodgers from looking downfield (causing him to hold the ball) and simultaneously keeps him from escaping the collapsing pocket. As a result he looks like he is not throwing to open receivers and holding the ball too long.

The Packers need to adjust with a split set backfield with Vitale or Williams to block and quick passes to their TE. Oh wait we really don't have a TE. OK, so we look for Adams who is our only play maker but is doubled covered, OK go to MVS, we have no idea where he is, oops, SACK!

The Packers could try to slow the pass rush with an effective running game and then go play action but again that requires an OL that can actually block the point of attack. It also requires a game plan that requires running the ball more than 20% of the time.

The offense goes as far as their OL takes them and as we have seen this season that has not been very far. When PFF understands this basic premise they may be able to evaluate the OL appropriately. Thanks, Since '61

flackcatcher's picture

Which is why the Packers started Williams in the last game. But both Rodgers and McCarthy 'threw away' the inside running game prior to McCarthy's firing. So many missed chances to fix this. I can not explain why McCarthy did not ram this down on Rodgers, when this simple fix would save their season and his job. And I totally agree about PFF, their metrics is a flaming joke. But we all know it's about the clicks.

Tundraboy's picture

Nicely done Since '61.

pacman's picture

I wasn't able to watch the game live on Sunday so I caught the quick DirectTV version.

Looks like this game might have just been a few more of the 'lucky bounces' going our way finally rather than some massive change that let to a blowout. Ex: the dropped kickoffs didn't hurt us, we recovered a fumble and a pick six. They could have easily picked off 3 passes from AR but they didn't. Seems like AR was still holding ball too long sometimes.

Defense is too depleted as is O line. Anyone see any big difference in play calling?

Censored's picture

I'm hoping for a lot of change. clay, cobb, perry, bulaga, house, williams, and probably graham are gone next year. I'm fine with that. Getting rid of them would give us 76,523,166 in cap space.

I just want to keep Pettine as DC. i want him to be able to build his own staff. It has been nice watching a defense that can stop a team when it's 3 and 20.

Samson's picture

Many on your list will be gone. -- Sometimes a team needs to force change by just saying adios to a few underperforming players. -- Example: How do you improve the OLB position if you bring back CM3 & Perry? -- A new direction means new players. --- Best part: the new coaching staff can justify any move going forward.

Packers0808's picture

Matthews if he agrees to lot less pay and a more select role as a player will be back. He has proven he can still play and if he is used a a jackknife type player he will have a great impact on the defensive ball side! He still can get the job done, but e will have to take a large pay cut, remember who also wants to end his entire career as a Packer, so who knows!?

Lare's picture

I know he's now available, but do not hire John DeFilippo.

zoellner25's picture

reasons?

Hematite's picture

If you saw their chicken shit offense vs Seattle last night, nuff said.

dobber's picture

I agree...the guy hasn't done wonders with what he has in Minnesota. They're only OK offensively and they're pretty much playing 1990s offense. Nothing special.

He might be the perfect HC, but he's not getting attention for the right reasons as an OC in Minnesota.

In Edit: just saw he's been canned as OC in Minnesota...

zoellner25's picture

big difference between Phily's O-line and Vikings O-line

dobber's picture

Yep. But he didn't do anything remarkable with the tools he had (Cousins, Thielen, Diggs, Rudolph, etc.). Even with Cook coming back and starting to play better, they're pretty vanilla.

I think that Zimmer knows they're under scrutiny, too, and is making a change to salvage their season and foist some of the attention away from himself. There were high expectations there...

murphy's picture

As bad as the Pack has been this year, the Vikings are exactly one Clay Mathews roughing call away from having an identical losing record. Certainly not how I thought this season would go.

splitpea1's picture

He's worth an interview. I don't put a lot of stock in the Vikings' brain trust. Half of them probably have their heads screwed on backward.

zoellner25's picture

Amazing how an offense can be more productive when they convert 3rd downs. Who knew?

Ryan B Dub's picture

Really hoping Pettine is retained. I’d like to see House, Graham, Perry, Bulaga, Brice, get cut and or aren’t retained. I’d really like to see Clay Matthews stay on. He is valuable, and definitely has a lot to give to a team. I hope it’s the Packers. If you think we would be better with out him, you aren’t thinking about what he is as a player. You aren’t thinking really much at all.

stockholder's picture

I expect all the coaches to leave. (They likely will go with MM.) This defense has to be re-done. The time to switch is now. It's been 8 years of bad. You can't get ahead keeping, "old/stale" out dated alignments. ( Isn't that why MM had to be fired, in many people's eyes?)

4thand1's picture

Watched another NFCN team get totally hosed in Seattle. Ref picked up a flag that was a definite penalty on the FG. Cousins is as much to blame for the OC getting fired. He missed check downs and open receivers. As for the future, beat thebearsstillsuck Sunday and the future is bright. A loss and no big deal, it helps with the draft, we could drop 4 or 5 spots by the end of the season.

Oppy's picture

Random, just saw this, Andrew Brandt wrote up a little article about MM & the Packers.

Nothing ground breaking, but everyone here is a Packers junkie, so here you go.

https://sports.yahoo.com/behind-green-gold-curtain-insider-155827938.html

Dash Riprock's picture

"My sense is that the Packers have their eye on a candidate that they wanted to contact now, someone not currently working for an NFL team, rather than having to wait until January"

This is Andrew Brandt talking in the quote. I believe he's more than likely referring to Rex Ryan, just as I have been predicting all along. Thanks for that link Oppy.

HankScorpio's picture

Brandt clearly implies his is talking about a college coach when he mentioned Bowl season heating up.

I sincerely hope that nobody is stupid enough to put Rex Ryan's name on so much as the first draft of a search list.

Since '61's picture

Rex Ryan's name should never appear in the Packers search for an HC. He is a complete buffoon. Besides, we already have our DC in Pettine. Ryan does not have a clue about offense and doesn't even get involved with the offensive side of the ball. He was the HC for NY Jets and he was a joke.

Everyone knew the Jets succeeded (for 2 seasons) because of Pettine's defense and a strong ground game. Ryan was only effective in upsetting the media and insulting people. He is basically a glorified DC. Don't need him and don't want him Green Bay. Thanks, Since '61

Fordham Ram's picture

Spoken like a true New Yorker who saw too many Jet games like me.

LeotisHarris's picture

Dash, do you expect Rex to hand the starting job to Boyle right out of the gate, or will there be an open QB competition in camp?

I don't mind telling you it's thrilling to think of Boyle throwing to our new beefed up TE Jeff Janis. A lot of people are saying Ryan would play Janis both ways; at TE and at Safety.

The thought I had when I read Brandt's quote was he was referring to either Bud Grant or Mike Ditka. I know that's a stretch, but Murphy is old school and Gute wants an ass-kicker. Lawd amighty, what a time to be alive!

Slim11's picture

Good read and there are two other links within the article which are also interesting.

TheBigCheeze's picture

Cole Madison needs to get his ass to GB asap....I don't care what the circumstances....he needs to be professional....

LeotisHarris's picture

Right, tough guy. Maybe you should make a trip out to tell him personally.

And, while you're at it, do the world a favor and google "ellipsis."

Ken's picture

There are actually 4 Northwestern players on the roster:
Lowry, Lancaster, Vitale and Ibraheim Campbell.

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