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Discussion in 'Green Bay Packers Fan Forum' started by TOPHAT, Apr 22, 2007.


    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Likes Received:
    Mar 1, 2007

    A year ago, the Green Bay Packers picked up four starters and a few promising backups to plug many of the glaring holes on what had been a 4-12 team. With the draft less than a week away, the Packers find themselves with less obvious needs and fewer holes to patch in the wake of an 8-8 season.
    "I think the arrow's going up," an executive in personnel for another National Football League team said Thursday. "I really think they're still one more year away, but they've got a chance to compete for their division. "Actually, I think Green Bay is doing really well. They're doing the right things. You've got to fill through the draft." The executive agreed to assess the status and degree of need at each of the Packers' positions:

    Wide receiver: "You got a Pro Bowler and a young, developing kid. You really got two guys, (Greg) Jennings and (Donald) Driver. You need a third that can be a threat. (Robert) Ferguson is on the downside. I think we all saw what he is. This (Ruvell) Martin guy, he's limited. Maybe he gets a little better but he's not really a threat. They didn't sign anybody. (Carlyle) Holiday is a guy they brought in late and did some decent things. That third spot isn't a major need but it's definitely a need."
    Tight end: "(David) Martin's gone, you've got to replace one. We know (Donald) Lee is limited. They have a blocker (Bubba Franks) and a wide-receiver type in Lee. Martin kind of did both. It's not a pressing need. I think receiver is more of a need than tight end. Franks is a red-area weapon but not really a weapon in the middle of the field."
    Tackle: "If everybody is healthy they're fine. But how long can they go? Depends on (Kevin) Barry, (Tony) Moll. Maybe they think one of those guys could develop. I don't think there's a left-tackle candidate on the roster if (Chad) Clifton physically can't do it."
    Guard: "I think they could use a starter, but they've got some young, developing guys. They've drafted guards. I do think they need a guy that produces like a starter. Maybe with another year of development these guys get better. I have (Daryn) Colledge graded higher than the other guy (Jason Spitz). They probably feel they've got these guys already."
    Center: "They paid that kid (Scott Wells) so they don't think it's a need. You can get by with average centers in the league."
    Quarterback: "Well, they got (Brett) Favre and the (Aaron) Rodgers kid. That's status quo. Not a lot of teams have one, let alone three."
    Running back: "No. 1 need on offense. They do not have a No. 1. They're all backups. (Vernand Morency) hasn't done it. Maybe he can. He's got some speed. They've got a No. 2 and a No. 3. They just don't have a starter."
    Fullback: "Somebody could pop up there. That happens all the time. But today, to say they have a starting fullback, no. (Brandon) Miree has not fully blossomed yet. Maybe he can with a full off-season."
    Defensive end: "I think they're fine. If they keep "KGB" (Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila) in the third spot, they got three ends."
    Defensive tackle: "I think they need help there. Really, they need an inside pass rusher. If you really want to have a good defensive line they need another defensive tackle."
    Strong-side linebacker: "(Brady) Poppinga is coming off the knee and I think he will be better next year. He's a big specimen. In terms of physical play, he'll be OK there. But the coverage skills are limited. You give that up for the size."
    Middle linebacker: "Well, they just paid him (Nick Barnett) the big money. (Abdul Hodge) is an up-and-coming kid."
    Weak-side linebacker: "They got a guy (A.J. Hawk). I just think they got four linebackers. I don't like (Tracy) White."
    Cornerback: "I like the two starters. They've got to find a better third who can potentially be a starter. We just think Frank Walker is an average guy."
    Safety: "They need a starting strong safety. I thought (Marviel) Underwood showed some things back in '05 and then he got hurt. Tyrone Culver did some good things. But I don't like (Marquand) Manuel, the guy who was starting last year. I thought he was a guy to replace."
    Kicker: "That's a questionable area with (Dave) Rayner. I just thought he was OK."
    Punter: "The punter (Jon Ryan) needs to be replaced. You can get in his head."
    Return specialist: "I think you're competent there. You can continue to do that."
    Long snapper: "They're good to go."

    :twocents: :twocents: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
  2. Zombieslayer

    Zombieslayer Cheesehead

    Likes Received:
    Aug 12, 2006

    I won't say where I agree, just where I disagree. I think our DT spots are fine. Our return specialist is a HUGE need. And TE is a need.
  3. Timmons

    Timmons Cheesehead

    Likes Received:
    May 8, 2006
    Phoenix, AZ

    Furthermore, the author could have written in more names, and discussed players for what they are and aren't. "I don't like White". Great, that's great feedback. What good does that do anyone? How about some substance next time?
  4. Pack93z

    Pack93z You retired too? .... Not me. I'm in my prime

    Likes Received:
    Aug 1, 2005
    Central Wisconsin

    The writer was only quoting a executive in personnel that was kind enough to answer his questions. I found it interesting that another team picked on the youth, lack of depth at LB and hammered our special teams. Now I wish I knew what team this executive was from.
  5. Mortfini

    Mortfini Cheesehead

    Likes Received:
    Mar 6, 2007
    newcastle england

    i think the only pos this guy did not hammer where WR and QB

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Likes Received:
    Mar 1, 2007



    ...[A] former scout [accesses]...the Packers' current roster....[By] position-by-position analysis:

    QUARTERBACK--“I wasn’t...impressed with Ingle Martin....[V]ery similar to Aaron Rodgers. I’d use a late pick on someone like Jared Zabransky.”

    RUNNING BACK--“I was impressed by Vernand Morency...[N]eed to find another back to split...carries. Noah Herron is a No. 3....P.J. Pope and Arliss Beach are...fringe players.”

    FULLBACK--“They could probably use someone to compete with Brandon Miree, but this position isn’t a high priority.”

    TIGHT END--“It’s tough to run the West Coast offense without a solid tight end....This position has been ignored for far too long....Bubba Franks [is]...a backup and Donald Lee as a No. 3. They need a starter.”

    WIDE RECEIVER--“I expect Greg Jennings to really step up in his second season, but they still need another receiver....[Current talent not] to be your No. 3.”

    OFFENSIVE LINE--“...They need to find...legitimate backup at left tackle. With [three rookies] they drafted last year and Scott Wells, the middle of the line looks...pretty good shape....till wouldn’t pass up a quality guard or center....”

    DEFENSIVE LINE--“They have a good group, but...never pass up a quality defensive lineman....”

    LINEBACKER--“...[N]ot sold on Brady Poppinga....till need to improve the depth. Tracy White is...a special teams guy.”

    SECONDARY--“Unless...convinced [about]...Blackmon. finding a third corner/nickel back [is]...high priority. Marquand Manuel isn’t athletic enough to start at safety for 16 games...."

    SPECIAL TEAMS--“...[T]he kicker [is] better than the punter. They haven’t had an effective return game in years....”

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Likes Received:
    Mar 1, 2007

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

    Likes Received:
    Mar 1, 2007


    2006 team grades McGinn JSOnline Packer Insider.com

    The Packers threw a league-high 630 times, 34 more than runner-up Detroit. With Brett Favre healthy for 15 1/2 games and throwing all the time, it wasn't much of an accomplishment to rank eighth in yards (237.2). However, in the more telling category of pass average, the Packers ranked 17th, their worst finish since 1994. Offering veteran stability and exceptional leadership, Favre did trim his league-leading interception total from 29 to 18. Still, with one or fewer TD passes in 10 of the last 13 games, Favre sagged to 25th in passer rating with the third-worst mark of his career (72.7). His yards-per-attempt rate of 6.34 was his second-worst ever. Not only did Favre lack accuracy deep, but his receivers offered little vertical stretch. Donald Driver earned his Pro Bowl berth with a great year, but after Greg Jennings damaged his ankle in Week 6 there was little to go with him. Red-zone production was brutal with a No. 31 ranking (previous worst since '98 was No. 18). Bubba Franks didn't catch a TD pass as tight ends dropped horrendous 12.8% of targeted passes. That wasn't much better than drop rate of running backs (9.5%), who had merely three receptions for 20 yards or more after averaging seven in the last three seasons. Wide receivers dropped just 4.1%. According to STATS, Green Bay led the NFL in drops with 43. Two-minute, screen game and shotgun snapping need work. Fortified by extensive seven-man protections, the Packers ranked third in percentage of sacks allowed.

    Mike McCarthy came in talking like a coach hell-bent on running the ball. In the end, the Packers ran on merely 39.7% of the downs, only slightly better than last year and well off McCarthy's five-year ratio of 43.2% in five seasons calling the plays in New Orleans and 49.5% in San Francisco last year. Slipped from 11th (118.9) at mid-season to 23rd (103.9) at the finish. Ahman Green was healthy enough to play 14 games and record his sixth 1,000-yard season, ranking 19th with 1,059 yards. Of the 22 running backs with 1,000 yards, he ranked just 19th in yards per carry (3.98). His first-half average of 4.68 yards was followed by second-half mark of 3.41. Green converted merely eight of 13 third-and-one's to rank 33rd but didn't fumble once between Weeks 4-15. The Packers intentionally ran left more than right, taking advantage of Chad Clifton's strength at the point and Mark Tauscher's proficiency as a cut blocker. Outgoing coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski installed new zone-blocking scheme and results were hit-and-miss. According to STATS, Green Bay tied for sixth with Atlanta in fewest negative runs (34). However, in terms of "bad" runs, which also counts carries for 1 and no yards, the Packers' mark of 29.9% was their fourth worst in the last six years. There were seven rushes for 20 yards or more, including four by newcomer Vernand Morency (91 carries) and three by Green (266). Green Bay ranked 31st in first-down efficiency with 4.04 yards, ahead of only Oakland.

    Ranked last at mid-season (244.5) and 30th after 12 games (235.3), the Packers did an about-face down the stretch to finish 17th (206.8) after allowing just 121.5 in the last four weeks. The No. 17 rank would appear to be a collapse from No. 1 (167.5) but the ranking was skewed in 2005 based on an exceedingly low number of pass attempts. More telling was the No. 14 rank in pass average both seasons. Opponents' passer rating of 75.4 ranked eighth, far better than tied for 25th in '05 and 32nd in '04. Not only that but the Packers ranked third in interceptions (23) after picking off a whopping 15 in the last six games. Team had merely 18 in last two years. Fourteen of the 23 were the result of sensational plays, including many of Charles Woodson's eight picks. Coordinator Bob Sanders did little blitzing (24.9%) because four-man rush spearheaded by Aaron Kampman, Cullen Jenkins, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and Corey Williams was so effective (46 sacks, fourth in NFL). From Week 3 on, Al Harris largely was responsible for limiting No. 1 receivers to an average game of two catches for 33 yards. On the other hand, linebackers allowed 20 1/2 plays of 20 yards or more, most in the period from 1994-'06. Plus, safeties Marquand Manuel and Nick Collins gave up 9 1/2 TD passes, most by a pair of safeties from 1994-'06. Manuel's 5 1/2 were most by any safety in that span. An excessive number of blown assignments plus faulty technique in Sanders' match-coverage scheme led to 53 passes of 20 yards or more, up from 36 in '05.

    RUSH DEFENSE (C-plus)
    Joined the '94 squad as Green Bay's only defenses since the 16-game schedule was adopted in '78 not to allow an individual 100-yard rusher in the first 10 games. That streak came to a screeching halt in Week 10 when Nick Barnett suffered a broken hand, sat out Week 11 as Seattle's Shaun Alexander became just the fifth back ever to surpass 200 yards against Green Bay (40-201), and then played in a cast for the last month. After allowing three more 100-yard rushers later (Cedric Houston, Frank Gore and Cedric Benson), the Packers finished 13th in yards (114.1) and 17th in yards per carry (4.14). New starters A.J. Hawk and Brady Poppinga were major upgrades against the run, Ryan Pickett probably was the equal of Grady Jackson and never-say-die Aaron Kampman set the club record for tackles by a D-lineman with 113. Nevertheless, the promotion of Jenkins ahead of "KGB" at right end two plays into the 13th game was the key. Before the move, the Packers allowed 123.9 yards and 4.22 yards per carry. After the move, they allowed 84.5 and 3.80. The unit missed 100 tackles (Marquand Manuel led with 15), the fewest since the statistic first was recorded in '99. Improved tackling helped keep the number of runs for 20 yards or more yards to seven, fewest since '99. Sanders played the same 4-3 "over" scheme as predecessor Jim Bates but had 50% fewer tackles for loss (32 compared to 48). According to STATS, Green Bay ranked only 24th in opponents' negative runs.

    McCarthy's decision not to retain John Bonamego and hire Mike Stock in this area paid no obvious dividends. In a statistical breakdown of 10 special-teams categories, the Packers ranked 31st in 2005 and 31st in 2006. The Saints were 14th under Bonamego. Special-teams inadequacies seldom were an issue because they weren't catastrophic. The unit didn't force any turnovers but other than Noah Herron's fumbled kickoff return in Week 1 there weren't any giveaways. In the department of trick plays, the Packers won one of three. Green Bay didn't block any kicks and had two field goals blocked, but those were the fault of Dave Rayner. The other first-year specialist, Jon Ryan, surprised as a competent holder and punted better than B.J. Sander, but his net (35.7) was tied for 26th. Rayner made 74.3% of field goals to rank 26th, same as Ryan Longwell did in '05, and his deeper, higher kickoffs helped the Packers tie for 11th in opponents' average drive start. The return units tied for 29th in the NFL. The daring Woodson led the NFL in fair-catch ratio (two of 43) and had his only fumble wiped out by penalty (the Packers' opponents muffed five punt returns). Morency gave it his all to finish in a tie for 30th on kickoffs (21.6), but the Packers are long overdue for a return ace along the lines of Devin Hester, Pacman Jones and B.J. Sams. Only 11 teams had worse overall coverage. LB Tracy White was the No. 1 core player followed by LB Ben Taylor and CB Jarrett Bush. Kickoff coverage was better early than late.

    GM Ted Thompson followed a dismal first season with a very good second season. The draft is his baby, and after turning seven selections into 12 via five trades on April 29 he got more than his money's worth in Year One. Four rookies started, and all four could make the all-rookie team. A fifth started 10 games and five others at least made the club. The only miss was WR Cory Rodgers in the fourth round. Although Thompson ultimately decided to deal Javon Walker for too little compensation (second-round pick), it was Mike Sherman and Brett Favre who poisoned the environment for his return. In all, the draft choices made 65 starts. In unrestricted free agency, Thompson got good value from Woodson and Pickett in the first year. His signing of Manuel rather than free-agent safeties Chris Hope, Marlon McCree, Lawyer Milloy and Corey Chavous was a blunder. Dealing Samkon Gado for Vernand Morency was a plus, as was the scrap-heap discoveries of Carlyle Holiday, Ruvell Martin, Jason Hunter, White, Rayner and Ryan. Signing troubled WR Koren Robinson Sept. 11 was a year too late and somewhat naïve. Thompson let seven unrestricted veterans go (Mike Flanagan, Tony Fisher, Longwell and Jackson, among them) and cut nine veterans from March to July, but in hindsight it's hard to find fault with any of the decisions. He re-signed Scott Wells Nov. 6 but hasn't made a hard move yet on Jenkins. In a rather top-heavy scouting department, the last member to leave for a better job was Scot McCloughan in April 2000.

    COACHING (B-minus)
    Inheriting a situation that appeared bleak 12 months ago, McCarthy refused to tolerate excuses from himself or others and brought the Packers back to respectability. His team, the youngest in the league, looked dead in the water after a 1-4 start. But the Packers regained their equilibrium near mid-season, faltered in November and caught fire for a classic Green Bay finish in cold weather before supportive crowds. The best thing that McCarthy did was get the turnover situation under control. The Packers finished even in turnover differential, vast improvement over a hideous minus-24 in '05. Furthermore, the team tied for 10th in fewest penalties (90) and was eighth in fewest penalty yards (689), improvements from 19th and 16th a year ago. Supremely confident in his offensive approach, McCarthy was good for Favre and made sharp adjustments in protection to hide a youthful O-line. However, his team ranked 22nd in points, equaling the team's worst finish since '91 and no better than what Sherman and Tom Rossley did in '05. McCarthy must have been appalled in the first two months by the performance of the defense coordinated by Bob Sanders and the secondary coached by Kurt Schottenheimer. Still, McCarthy made no rash decisions, an indication that he can keep his volcanic temper under wraps. Getting Jenkins on the field full-time for "KGB" was much better late than never.

    OVERALL (B-minus)
    Picked for oblivion in most quarters, the Packers became a force in December before eventually losing the second wild-card playoff berth to the New York Giants on the strength-of-victory tiebreaker. They leaped from fourth to second place in the NFC North, finishing with a four-game winning streak. Their 8-8 record represented a four-game improvement from a year ago, a leap exceeded only by New Orleans, Baltimore, the New York Jets and San Diego. It was the best jump from one season to the next in Green Bay since Mike Holmgren turned the 4-12 mess that he inherited from Lindy Infante into a 9-7 contender in 1992. McCarthy's club went 5-3 on the road, a record that Holmgren's seven teams in Green Bay matched but never surpassed. It took two late wins over tail-enders Minnesota and Detroit to salvage face and a 3-5 record at Lambeau Field. The Packers opened the season with 14 rookies and three first-year players only to end it with 16 rookies and four first-year men. In Week 16, 29 of the 53 players, or 54.7%, spent no time on the Packers' active or reserve lists just a year ago. And it was a team that went 7-8-1 against the spread, winning all five road games as an underdog of between 3 and 7 points. Lady Luck smiled on the Packers, with a total of seven starters missing merely 13 games due to injury. But in a bottom-line business, the Packers failed to make the playoffs despite another horrendous season (24-40 interconference record) in the NFC.

    Specific Offense grades


    Shaun Bodiford: Returned kickoffs in two games and played a couple snaps from scrimmage before suffering a broken fibula in Week 9. Made the Lions as a rookie free agent. Tough, fast, raw. Grade: Incomplete.

    Donald Driver: Ranked fifth in the NFL both in receptions (92) and receiving yards (1,295). Resilient, sudden, courageous, speedy, fearless and clever. He meant everything to an offense that didn't have enough playmakers. Did most of his damage from the slot. It's hard to imagine that there was a better inside receiver in the league. Had lowest drop rate of his career (3.5%) and averaged career-best 4.95 yards after the catch, which ranks third behind Antonio Freeman (7.3, '98) and Robert Brooks (5.1, '95) among the team's No. 1 wide receivers during West Coast era. Grade: A.

    Robert Ferguson: Enjoyed healthy, productive training camp but lost job to Greg Jennings late in camp and didn't have many chances as No. 3 in first month. Suffered dreaded Lisfranc foot sprain in Week 4 and went on injured reserve. Only 27 but hasn't played a full season since '02 and has $1.8 million base salary in '07. Still capable of competing for the No. 3 job if his foot checks out. Grade: D-plus.

    Chris Francies: Rookie free agent who was cut twice and brought back each time. Ordinary speed and hands but does show some toughness. Grade: D-minus.

    Carlyle Holiday: Overshadowed in Arizona by blue-chip receiving corps but quickly became quasi-No. 3 in late December after being claimed Dec. 5 off Cardinals' waivers. Four-year quarterback, one-year backup WR at Notre Dame with good hands, ball skills, body control and athleticism, plus an average score (19) on the Wonderlic intelligence test. Still raw in his routes, but there's tools to be developed. Rugged blocker. Grade: D-plus.

    Greg Jennings: It seems like a lifetime ago, but through five games he had eight catches for 20 yards or more whereas Driver had only six. Then he suffered a classic ankle sprain in Week 6 and was never the same again. As the star of training camp, he was smooth and fluid, ran explosively and unpredictably after the catch, found ways to get deep and showed a knack for making big plays. Jennings doesn't offer prototypical vertical stretch but has deceptive speed and is a natural route-runner. A classy individual. Might never be a No. 1 but should be a solid No. 2. Even better than Driver in average gain after catch (5.51) and had good drop rate (4.9%). Grade: C.

    Ruvell Martin: Fought the good fight, overcoming pink slips from San Diego in 2004 and '05 to make it as Packers' "street" free agent in '06. Didn't start playing until Week 6, but finished with 21 catches for team-high 17.0 average. Clutch 36-yard bomb behind Antoine Winfield was the biggest play in the second victory over Minnesota. Posted drop rate of 7.0%, after-catch average of 4.91. Doesn't mind getting dirty on special teams, trolling the middle or executing crack-back blocks. Long strider with questionable speed. Grade: D-plus.

    Koren Robinson: Serving year-long suspension and can't even apply for reinstatement until mid-September. Will be entering seventh season but won't be 27 until March. Robinson's return depends on if he adheres to his treatment program and what the club has for receivers in '07. Didn't appear special anymore receiving or returning kickoffs. Grade: D.

    TIGHT ENDS (5)
    Zac Alcorn: Rookie free agent from the Black Hills played only a few snaps from scrimmage. Probably has the best hands among the tight ends. Will be 27 in August but has enough talent to warrant another look. Grade: Incomplete.

    Bubba Franks: Hasn't been the same player since the club took 28 days to get him signed in August 2005. Was shaky last year, much worse in '06. His great hands deserted him (drop rate of 11.3%), as did his powers of concentration (four penalties, only ones by tight ends; two fumbles, his first since '00) and ability to pass block (career-worst 9 1/2 "pressures" allowed, including three sacks). Gave up career-low total of 7 1/2 "bad" runs. Labored running routes, didn't score a TD or have a reception for more than 19 yards. Club has to consider taking $2 million cap hit, releasing him in off-season and starting over. Grade: F.

    Tory Humphrey: Made club as No. 4 TE, contributed on special teams but never had a pass thrown to him before going on injured reserve Nov. 15 with a major hamstring injury. On the short side but can run. Grade: Incomplete.

    Donald Lee: Played much better in '05 without a training camp than he did in '06 with one. Dropped too many last year (7.6%), but then came back to drop a shocking five of 22 this year (22.7%). Superbly conditioned athlete. Not an explosive blocker, but seldom misses his man. Proficient on special teams. Figures to get one more shot. Grade: D.

    David Martin: Fast becoming a prominent piece of the offense and was having his finest season before suffering a fractured rib in Week 10. Played just one game after that. Big and fast, constantly improving as a blocker during spotty six-year career. Unrestricted free agent whom the Packers figure to re-sign at their number. Grade: D-plus.

    Kevin Barry: Blew out a quadriceps tendon and underwent surgery May 26 after being re-signed to two-year, $2.79 million deal ($1.2 million in bonuses). Doesn't fit cut-blocking scheme. Might draw draft-choice compensation in potential trade to a gap-blocking club. Still isn't out of the woods with the leg and his weight. Grade: Incomplete.

    Josh Bourke: Rookie free-agent tackle from Division II Grand Valley State spent year on injured reserve with lumbar disc problem. Sufficiently athletic to compete at both tackles. Grade: Incomplete.

    Chad Clifton: Overcame chronically sore knees to start 15 games without incident. Gifted and grooved pass protector, allowed two sacks in '06 and just 15 in seven-year career. Charged with 14 "pressures," down from 17 1/2 in '05 and 17 in '04. Only a handful of NFL tackles protect as well as Clifton. Not an explosive drive blocker, but was better at the point than on back-side cutoffs. Responsible for 12 "bad" runs, fewest among the regulars and down from 12 1/2 in '05. He had just six in '04. Played with greater intensity, trimming penalty count to six after averaging 9.3 from 2004-'06. Grade: B.

    Daryn Colledge: Second-round pick from Boise State, where he was four-year starter at LT. Wasn't ready in August but, when a second chance beckoned in mid-September, he most assuredly was. Started 14 games at LG and didn't allow a sack. Started one game at LT for an ill Clifton and yielded two first-quarter sacks to Miami's Jason Taylor before making impressive adjustments. Developed into an effective pass protector, a good cut blocker and a so-so drive blocker, finishing third among linemen in "pressures" allowed (19) as well as "bad" runs allowed (14½). Needs upper-body strength. A dedicated lifter. Grade: C.

    Junius Coston: Bounced between guard and tackle in camp, failed to impress and then didn't play a down during regular season. Will be entering third season, but doesn't turn 24 until November. Has more than enough talent to compete, but hasn't shown much competitive fire. Grade: Incomplete.

    Tony Moll: Clearly ranked No. 6 among the six linemen who played. Still, he was a better player than the guards of last year, Will Whitticker and Adrian Klemm. Given improved strength and refinement in technique, he should have a bright future at any of four positions. Fifth-round choice started five games at RG, then five at RT in only second year as an offensive lineman. A fighter with enough self-confidence to shake off tough times. Gave up more sacks (four) and "pressures" (23 1/2) than anyone on club and ranked third on offense with five penalties. Grade: D-plus.

    Tony Palmer: A seventh-round draft choice from Missouri who was claimed off waivers from St. Louis on Sept. 3. Never played. The Rams admired his nasty run-blocking ability, but were skeptical about his ability to grasp a system. Outgoing coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski and O-line coach Joe Philbin insist that isn't a problem. A physical wide body at guard who loves practicing and playing. Grade: Incomplete.

    Jason Spitz: Early-season thigh injury was the only reason why he started 13 games rather than 16. Brawler-mauler type. Better in a phone booth than on the move. Well-tutored at Louisville, he entered the NFL knowing the score in terms of temperament, toughness and strength. Seemed to wear down in the final month. Allowed the most bad runs (17 1/2) and the fourth-most "pressures" (19 1/2). Carries himself a lot like Frank Winters. Grade: C-minus.

    Mark Tauscher: Missed Weeks 10-14 with a torn groin, but refused to cash in the season and was back starting in Weeks 15-16. Charged with one sack, giving him just 12 in seven-year career. Doesn't always look pretty in protection, but plays the angles and is athletic enough not to stay beat. Seemed somewhat miscast early in cut-blocking run scheme, but by season's end might have been the best cutter among his linemates. Moves into high-rent district in '07 ($4.089 million cap salary), but Packers should be only too glad to have him. Grade: B-minus.

    Tyson Walter: Signed off the street Nov. 25 to provide protection at all five positions. Never played. Will be an unrestricted free agent and probably won't be back. Grade: Incomplete.

    Scott Wells: Entered the season as a question mark with just four starts at center and ended it as an established starter with a fat new contract. Sandwiched between rookie guards, he used superb strength, leadership skills and intelligence (30 on the Wonderlic) to keep the middle firm for Brett Favre. Allowed fewest "pressures" (11) on line, but the second-most "bad" runs (17). Quick and aggressive to the second level. Relies on balance, strength and pride to avoid getting rag-dolled by bulk. A worthy successor to Mike Flanagan. Grade: B-minus.

    Todd Bouman: Brought on board by Mike McCarthy as a Band-Aid Nov. 21 after Aaron Rodgers went down. No reason to bring him back. Grade: Incomplete.

    Brett Favre: The legendary one accepted the task of directing a youthful team in full rebuilding mode and ended up taking some pride in a .500 finish. After ranking an unsightly 31st in pass rating (70.9) in '05, Favre moved up a few notches to 25th (72.7). For the second consecutive season, he was considerably better early than late. This year, his rating of 81.3 in the first nine games was followed by 61.0 in the last seven. At Mike McCarthy's behest, Favre toned down his impulsiveness and had 23 turnovers, down from 36 a year ago. He was 1 for 3 in win-at-the-end situations. His vision and bounce-back release were key factors why opponents sacked him merely 21 times. He had to learn vastly new terminology and proved a nice fit in McCarthy's frequent call-at-the-line system. No longer is Favre a threat to run. His accuracy deep has diminished. And his hair-trigger reflexes have lost some juice. Still, he is capable of making any throw, still has a blue-chip arm and is an all-time competitor and tough guy. If Favre thinks he can postpone the inevitable physical decline at 38 as well as he did at 37, there's little reason to think he's going to retire. Grade: B-minus.

    Ingle Martin: His arm might be stronger than Rodgers' and he probably is more athletic. Plus, he has a quick snap release and doesn't have to wind up to throw downfield. Developing him is worth the time. Grade: Incomplete.

    Aaron Rodgers: In four exhibition games, he was impressive in the first, very average in the second, not very good in the third and awful in the fourth. His only regular-season appearance of substance was the second half against New England. It wasn't pretty. He held the ball for three sacks. He bolted the pocket prematurely. He wasn't crisp in his progressions. And his body language hinted of irritation with his teammates. However, he played at least the fourth quarter with a broken foot that probably will sideline him until spring. No one is sure if he can play or not. Grade: D.

    Arliss Beach: Big rookie runner flashed some speed and some elusiveness in camp. Spent season on injured reserve with ankle injury. Grade: Incomplete.

    Noah Herron: With Ahman Green taking frequent breathers, Mike McCarthy gave him 13.9 snaps, mostly on third down, in the role previously held by Tony Fisher. In 66 touches from scrimmage, his longest gain was just 19 yards. Herron isn't as fast or as good as Fisher, either from scrimmage or on special teams. Grade: D-plus.

    Brandon Miree: He played 144 snaps to Henderson's eight in Weeks 4-7 before suffering a hyperextended elbow late in Week 7. After sitting out three games, he played with a brace and alternated with Henderson in Weeks 11-16. The elbow, however, limited his aggressiveness. Miree isn't a blow-'em-up type blocker, but this offense doesn't require that. He's athletic for the position and a good fit for the scheme. Grade: D-plus.

    Vernand Morency: It's hard to find a scout who would want Morency as a starter, but most would like him as a No. 2. He's quick into the hole, has shake-and-bake in the open field and enough speed to go the distance. His hands, pass blocking and toughness all seem adequate. And the game isn't too big for him. Grade: C.

    P.J. Pope: After being plucked Oct. 31 from the Bears' practice squad, he played in just one of nine games. He's a rookie free agent worth another look. Grade: Incomplete.

    Specific Defense Grades:


    Colin Cole: Ranked sixth on the unit in playing time at 38.5%. Tied for second on the team in tackles for loss (3 1/2) and was second in tackles per play (one every 7.6 snaps). Those numbers reflect his ability to make one or two impressive stops each week but don't account for his inconsistencies at the point of attack. Wasn't as stout this year last year. Strictly a power pass rusher. Grade: C-minus.

    Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila: Lost his starting job early in Week 13 to Cullen Jenkins. Played 77.6% of the downs in the first 12 games, 48.8% after that. Ranked fourth on D-line in "pressures" per play (one every 20.8 snaps) and sixth in tackles per play (one every 11.9 snaps). Double-teamed on 30.7% of passes, most since '02. Plays with decent leverage and often claws his way into ball carrier's legs, but at 250 pounds will get driven far off the ball, too. With his days as a full-time player perhaps over in Green Bay, he'll probably have to take a reduction from his $5 million base salary for '07 or be waived. Grade: C-plus.

    Jason Hunter: Played in 14 games as a backup end (34 snaps) and on special teams. Rookie free agent from Appalachian State has the speed to rush the passer. At this point, he doesn't know how to use his speed and plays too out of control. Grade: D.

    Cullen Jenkins: Started to come of age down the stretch after a chronic ankle injury sidelined him for 2 1/2 games and limited him in several others. Was a revelation in the final month at right end. On one of the premier pass-rushing teams in the NFL, he had the most "pressures" per play (one every 15.5 snaps) and was third in tackles per snap (one every 8.4 plays). Minimum-wage earner who plays hungry, with a wife and two young children to feed. Will be a restricted free agent in March. The Packers had better place at least the middle tender on him or he'll be gone in a heartbeat. Grade: B.

    Johnny Jolly: Sixth-round draft choice from Texas A&M. Rookie nose tackle with an attitude, in a good sort of way. Even in limited exposure (75 snaps, six games), Jolly let people know he isn't somebody to mess with. Grade: D.

    Aaron Kampman: Described by one scout late in the season as "kind of a modern Michael Strahan." Kampman dropped about 20 pounds in two years, similar to what Strahan did during his magnificent career, and blossomed into a marvelous pass rusher. Still plays with amazing leverage against the run. One of the rare players that is better in the NFL than he was in college. Played 93.2% of the snaps, including 97.6% in the last eight games when the coaches determined they absolutely couldn't do without him. His 55 "pressures" were 12 1/2 more than "KGB" ever registered and put to shame Kampman's best of 31 1/2 in '05, when he had a very good year. Broke Ezra Johnson's club record for most tackles by a D-lineman (since 1975) with 113. Could write a how-to instructional book on how to be a pro and play strong-side defensive end. Grade: A.

    Mike Montgomery: Ended on a lackluster note, playing a horrible game against the run in Seattle and then suffering season-ending knee ligament damage (no surgery) the following week. A high-motor player with long arms and legs but only average strength. Played 207 snaps, 50 more than as a rookie. Ranked third on D-line in "pressures" per play (one every 19.7 snaps) and fifth in tackles per play (one every 9.9 snaps). Grade: D-plus.

    Ryan Pickett: Found a home in Green Bay after five underappreciated seasons in St. Louis. A worthy successor to Grady Jackson. Played 645 snaps in 16 games compared to Jackson's 557 in 16 games last year. Had five batted passes, three more than anyone on the club, led the D-line in tackles per play (one every 7.0) and tied for second in tackles for loss (3 1/2). Dominated most single blocks, had a knack for stacking and then shedding double-team blocks, and really hustled in pursuit for a 335-pounder. Grade: B.

    Corey Williams: Rated as the No. 4 tackle for the first three weeks but improved so much that he started 11 of the last 13 games. A power pass rusher whose three-sack explosion in 18 snaps Nov. 5 at Buffalo changed the course of his season. He played 62.9% of the snaps in Weeks 9-16 after playing 46.6% in Weeks 1-8. Ranked fifth in "pressures" per play (one every 28.5 snaps) but knows how to finish, ranking second in sacks with seven. He still gets lazy at times and is shoved down a gap or two, but generally seems more professional in his work habits. Grade: C-plus.

    Nick Barnett: Led the team in tackles for loss (5 1/2) and might have led the team in tackles for the fourth straight season if he hadn't missed the Seattle game with a broken hand. Cut his missed tackles from 20 to 13, chased sideline to sideline and played almost every snap over 15 games. Guilty of too many coverage mistakes. Tied for team lead in plays of 20 yards or more allowed with eight, most by a LB in Green Bay since the statistic first was kept in '94. He had 6 1/2 in the second half, including 4 1/2 while playing with a cast on his hand. Also yielded 4 1/2 TD passes, most by a Green Bay LB in a decade. Grade: B-minus.

    Kurt Campbell: Suffered shoulder injury in third exhibition game, underwent reconstructive surgery in mid-September and probably won't return. Grade: Incomplete.

    A.J. Hawk: Finished third in voting for AP Defensive Rookie of the Year behind DeMeco Ryans and Mark Anderson. Started on weak side from first day of minicamp. All football all the time. Gained more and more respect from teammates as season went on. Led team in tackles (155) and tied for second both in turnover plays (five) and tackles for loss (3 1/2). Not a particularly punishing tackler but very accurate with only seven misses despite playing about 95% of the snaps. Had major deficiencies in coverage, allowing 7 1/2 plays of 20 yards or more. If not for Barnett, his total would have been the highest by a LB since '94. However, he allowed only one-half TD pass. Grade: B-minus.

    Abdul Hodge: Made a string of concussive hits in camp but wasn't shifted from the middle and almost never played behind Barnett. He got his chance in Seattle and the results were disappointing. Missed four tackles, was exposed twice in end-zone coverage by TE Jerramy Stevens and was slow both shedding blocks and getting to the perimeter. Probably isn't speedy enough to play anywhere except the middle and has a logjam in front of him. Grade: D-minus.

    Brady Poppinga: Season-long starter made spirited recovery from reconstructive knee surgery Dec. 26, 2005. Should be moving appreciably better eight months from now. Poppinga, a collegiate DE, was exposed in coverage early but worked hard to improve and did down the stretch. Smart, rangy, tough, athletic and fundamentally sound. Tied for third in missed tackles (nine) and allowed five plays of 20 yards or more but no TDs. Will be 28 in September. Looks like the long-term answer. Grade: C.

    Ben Taylor: Lost job in mid-August when Poppinga was declared ready go and then almost never played again. An active, committed participant on special teams. Will be an unrestricted free agent and might not be back. Grade: D.

    Tracy White: If the Packers value special teams, they'll re-sign White before he reaches unrestricted free agency. Widely regarded as Green Bay's top core player. Broke up a lot of wedges and attracted a lot of double teams. Runs very well. Not a factor from scrimmage. Grade: C-minus.

    Atari Bigby: Has the size (5-11, 211), hitting ability and sufficient speed to push for roster berth in '07. Broke his hand a week into camp and didn't come off the practice squad until Week 10. Made presence known on special teams. Grade: D.

    Will Blackmon: Two major injuries ruined this rookie cornerback's season. First, he suffered a broken foot in minicamp and couldn't practice until September. Then, in his fourth game playing special teams, he suffered a fractured rib and went on injured reserve. Grade: Incomplete.

    Jarrett Bush: Free-agent rookie. Played just a handful of snaps at cornerback. A fixture on special teams, he hit and hustled as gunner on the punt team. He's a fine athlete with good size and adequate speed. Grade: D.

    Nick Collins: Played his finest game in two seasons last Sunday night in Chicago. Made two exceptional interceptions, dropped what would have been a third and was seen to gallivant all over the field making tackles. He had been playing a much more hesitant game. He tied for second in turnover plays (five). In coverage, he allowed five plays of 20 yards or more and four TD passes, third most on the team. Grade: C-plus.

    Tyrone Culver: Served as the No. 3 safety all season and played sparingly from scrimmage. A resourceful rookie with average tools. Grade: D.

    Patrick Dendy: Assumed the job as nickel back in Week 5 after Ahmad Carroll was cut and held it for the rest of the season. Allowed five plays of 20 yards or more and 2 1/2 TD passes. Also, he had three interceptions, four missed tackles and just one penalty. Modest and unassuming, Dendy basically was sound on assignments but at times came up short in terms of raw speed and athletic ability. Grade: D-plus.

    Al Harris: One of the better bump-and-run cornerbacks in the NFL but often gets exposed in off-man or zone coverage. A top-notch professional who trains and competes hard. Lacks the hands, ball skills and instincts to be a true playmaker. Intercepted three passes and dropped two others, including one at the St. Louis 5 that might have turned that game around. Allowed four plays of 20 yards or more in the first six games and then merely 1 1/2 in the last 10 games for a total of 5 1/2, his lowest total in Green Bay. Also gave up just 1 1/2 TD passes. Missed four tackles in Week 6, then didn't miss another all season. Drew six penalties, most by any player on defense. Dissatisfied with a contract that runs through 2009 and might withhold services to extract more money. Grade: B.

    Marquand Manuel: Talked a better game than he played. Billed as a great communicator in Seattle, he turned off some teammates with a know-it-all attitude even though he might have meant well. Very limited athlete. Slow to react, slow to adjust and slow afoot. Only turnover play came in Detroit on interception off deflection by Carroll. Allowed five plays of 20 yards or more and 5 1/2 TD passes, most by a Green Bay safety from 1994-2005. Also led the team in missed tackles with 15, the same number that Mark Roman averaged from 2004-'05. Grade: D-minus.

    Charlie Peprah: Claimed on waivers from the Giants on eve of regular season. Played sparingly on special teams and almost never from scrimmage. He was the glue of the Alabama secondary. His pedestrian speed will be tested in training camp. Grade: Incomplete.

    Marviel Underwood: Has made a strong recovery from reconstructive knee surgery Aug. 31 and should be ready by June. Looked to be much improved in his second year and would have been an appealing alternative to a struggling Manuel by midseason. Grade: Incomplete.

    Charles Woodson: The Raiders didn't think Woodson could cover, and during August and the first six weeks of the regular season it appeared as if they were right. For example, Detroit's Mike Furrey repeatedly burned him from the slot in Week 3. But after allowing 6 1/2 plays of 20 yards or more in the first eight games, Woodson yielded only 1 1/2 in the last eight. Furthermore, he made six of his NFC-leading eight interceptions in the final six games, and four of them required extraordinary instincts and athleticism. Woodson finished with 12 turnover plays, most by a Green Bay DB since LeRoy Butler also had 12 in '93. With those numbers, and the fact he played with a bum shoulder, the Packers didn't regret having paid Woodson about $10.5 million in '06. Plus, he was a nervy, effective punt returner. Grade: B-plus.

    TOPHAT Cheesehead

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