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Run to Daylight: Return to Glory… Revisited

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by Bruce, May 10, 2007.

  1. Bruce

    Bruce Cheesehead

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    Mike McCarthy declared immediately upon his hire as Head Coach (and play caller) the Packers would run the ball. He reaffirmed that commitment by hiring Jeff Jagodzinski (an offensive line coach) as his offensive coordinator to install the zone blocking scheme. Jagz has moved on to Boston College, but MM promised he did not take the team’s desire to rush the football with him. Joe Philbin remains committed to the scheme.

    However it did not take too much time into his debut season before McCarthy was forced to face the hard realities that come with having two to three rookie starting offensive linemen – circumstances dictated putting the ball in the hands of his future Hall of Fame QB was his best chance at victory, – so he did, early and often. The resulting 8 – 8 record showed progress, but did not dismiss the need to strengthen the running game.

    It would be ignorant to ignore the departure of FA Ahman Green, the 2nd leading rusher in Packer history, or the retirement of longtime workhorse FB William Henderson. So let’s acknowledge that both veterans’ departures will have major impact on the club – but then move on to discussing who will fill these very big shoes.

    Because despite Green’s and Henderson’s departures, with some maturation and perhaps changes in the offensive line, one should look for McCarthy to try and put the rush back in the running game in ‘07’.
    ===============================================================
    The Halfbacks:
    It is only fair to start with the current #1 HB Vernand Morency. Vernand has the talent to be a player in this league. The only real question is does he have the talent to be a feature back or is he a career #2 guy who provides solid depth and good rotation???

    Vernand has the kind of burst which can catch defenders flat footed, & his nice moves in the open field can leave defenders grasping at air when it works. He is quicker than he is fast, with good lateral and veer quickness, enabling him to change direction in stride. He has vision that helps him in traffic – essential for fitting into the Packers running game.

    At 5’9” (or 5’10” if you want to be generous) and 212 pounds he runs well downhill, squaring his shoulders and hitting holes with quick cuts and good pad level – which makes him a good fit for a zone blocking scheme. He is strong enough to run through arm and sloppy tackling techniques, but is not a power back that will get you the consistent tough yard. He is a fighter though, and surprises people once he gets a full head of steam going.

    Morency is a decent enough blocker for a HB, not a striker but he will face up particularly when blocking on the edge. He does show a willingness to do the job and with experience should be able to handle blitz pickups well.

    Vernand has the kind of hands that could be developed and with work Verand could be developed into a very good 3rd down back. His running style would fit into a multitude of screens and flairs and his quickness is ideal for draws.

    Morency’s downside at this point include: Vernand can still regress to sloppy technique, which sometimes feeds an old tendency to put the ball on the turf when reckless. Some question his durability to be a primary runner, seeing him instead as a rotation back or a potential 3rd down specialist. Morency has had some character issues that have followed him and is a guy who warrants keeping a close eye on and this must be factored into any long term decision making on his future with a team. On the other hand, reports are he was a boy scout with the Packers last season.
    [​IMG]
    ===============================================================
    As the Packers search to replace longtime running back Ahman Green this season, one of the prospects to fill that position will be from Green's old school Nebraska.

    Brandon Jackson, a 5-foot-10, 210-pound, 21 yr. old, was the Packers' pick in the second round. The fifth running back selected in the draft, Jackson is a football player with excellent feet and a natural runner. A late bloomer, BJ is sneaky-good – a player who could end up being far better than wannabe draft guru’s expect.

    Brandon has surprising power for a player his size and does a good job breaking tackles. While I think Gil Brandt’s comparing him to San Francisco's Frank Gore might be a bit much – he is a kid with the kind of talent that will surprise a number of people.
    Brandon has great body control, above average speed (a 4.55 at the combine, but 4.41 for the scouts) and exceptional stop-and-go movement, which makes him a slippery runner who is hard to put a big hit on. Jackson is a very instinctive runner, with good vision that allows him to read plays extremely well. B.J uses superb jukes and lateral moves to find holes – which should serve him well in the Packers zone blocking offense. He is a very good fit for our system.
    Brandon has big hands that help him catch the ball well out of the backfield. It is likely that his versatility to run and catch the ball as well as his experience returning kicks were all factors in T.T. locking in on this 21 year old early entry in the draft
    There is no doubt that Jackson had the talent to be an early pick, but injuries likely played a role in Jackson's slide to the bottom of the 2nd round. During his time at Nebraska, he tore the labrum in each shoulder and also broke his right hand – though he did not let this injury keep him from playing in the Cotton Bowl game to wrap up a Big 12 Conference first-team honors season.
    His 11 on the Wonderlic was low, but most scouts agree that he has football intelligence. New offensive coordinator Joe Philbin says this about Jackson, "Other guys in the draft may be physically bigger, or maybe ran a faster 40, but I don't know if you can teach those guys how to run the football. This kid was probably a good football player when he was 8 years old in the backyard, and hopefully he'll be good when we get him out here on Sundays."
    Running backs coach Edgar Bennett says of Jackson, "He's shown the vision and instincts you look for in a running back also, for a back with his size, he did a good job breaking tackles – he showed very good power.” "Again, you think of a guy with that quickness, has the ability to make people miss, he's elusive, good receiver out of the backfield, you get kind of excited about guys like that."
    Jackson’s self-assessment: "I have a lot of confidence I can come in and start, I just have to work hard and earn that position. I'm no stranger to hard work."
    [​IMG]
    ===============================================================
    The other rookie candidate, DeShawn Wynn, 5’-10” 238 pounds is long on physical talent, but unlike Jackson, comes with a questionable attitude and work-ethic. DeShawn is a thick powerful runner, who does have the patience to let the play develop in front of him. He has surprising get-up-and-go for a guy his size. Wynn has the size to swing back and forth from HB to FB, which should increase his value. He is a big guy with burst and a powerful stiff arm that disposes of anyone dreaming of arm tackling him. It won’t hurt that he comes out of a Florida system that required RB’s to learn to be solid route runners – Wynn looks very smooth running routes, a rare find for backs coming out of college

    DeShawn Wynn was an elite running back coming out of high school that had top-notch colleges drooling over him as a prospect. After a quick start as a freshman DeShawn proceeded to disappoint until his senior season with the National Champion Florida Gators.
    Where Jackson is 21, Wynn is 23 and has no time to waste in shedding a well-earned disappointment label. The numbers he but up at the combine – 40 in 4.47, a vertical jump of 31½ and a broad jump of 9-7 – were numbers that should have gotten a man of his size serious consideration for first day selection. But red flags and clashes with coaches resulted in a slide to the 7th round, where Ted Thompson determined that the risk/reward ratio was to positive to pass.
    On the positive side, DeShawn admits that his bad attitude after not being named the starter late in his freshman season seriously hurt him, but points to his senior campaign as a better indicator of what he is all about. In a championship run Wynn appeared to be a changed man – toughing out a right knee sprain and a left shoulder injury to finish with 267 yards and three touchdowns in 60 carries, including 19 carries for 73 yards and a touchdown in Florida's national championship victory over Ohio State.
    Running backs coach Edgar Bennett may be just what the doctor ordered for getting and keeping Wynn back on track, as will the wide open competition for playing time in the Packers backfield. “He's a big back with very good feet and good burst," running backs coach Edgar Bennett said. "Good receiver out of the backfield. He flashes good toughness, he needs to learn that in the NFL a back just has to be consistent. We did our due diligence and studied him on and off the field and came away with the conclusion he's an intriguing player that can come in here and compete and see what happens and then kind of go from there. I think having some discussions with him, now in his career, he knows that he has to make certain adjustments and this is a business and he's coming in with the right frame of mind that he has to be professional about how he goes about his business on and off the field."
    If Edgar is successful and can get Wynn on the right track early, he may be one of those late round steals that are essential to being a successful franchise in the NFL
    [​IMG]
    ===============================================================
    Noah Herron is a hard working kid who gets the most out of his limited athletic ability. Noah out-hustled and outworked his competition to steal a roster spot when Davenport was released. You can bet NO ONE will outwork him this off season.

    He is assignment sure, and runs, blocks and receives the football consistently, but certainly not flashy. He was the Packers primary third down back, but has to be considered a significant down grade from Tony Fisher – the player who held the position before him. Fisher was bigger, faster and more consistent, but Herron won the job when Tony moved on to St. Louis.

    Noah is the type of player who has a big heart and works his butt off – often the kind of guy that earns a living by standing out doing the dirty work on special teams. His hard work has paid and shown through improvement each week. Herron is also the type of player many teams like to have in their back pockets for signing if their roster gets depleted by injuries However if he is making a roster out of training camp, it brings into question the talent base the team put up for him to compete with.
    [​IMG]
    ===============================================================

    Arliss Beach is an interesting story – one that many like to compare with Samdon Gado. There is a piece of misinformation frequently bandied about Arliss, stating that like Gado, he was never a starter in college. The truth is he was a starter who could never stay healthy – with fluke injury after fluke injury keeping him from ever putting his college game together.

    In fact, as a sophomore in his first start (against Florida) he scored all three TD in Kentucky’s near upset of the highly ranked SEC foe that afternoon.

    A most noteworthy thing about his college career is that Beach NEVER FUMBLED once in his 4 years at Kentucky, despite playing TB and being a kick return man for the Wildcats.

    Beach stood out in training camp with his quickness and pop in drills and scrimmages. And when given his first real opportunity Arliss exploded against the Atlanta Falcons for 50 yards on 9 carries, for a 5.5 average, while the rest of the running backs struggled to gain any yardage at all. Arliss is a tough versatile young player, who can block, receive and run with surprising suddenness.

    As former offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski said about Beach, “the guy that really ran downhill was Beach. We’ve been impressed with him in practice. he needs to stay consistent. He may have a real chance…”

    Head Coach Mike McCarthy said, “I’m in favor of tough guys, and I think he’s a tough, physical football player. He put his foot down and ran with a lot of forward lean. I think he’s a young man with a bright future.

    Beach looked as though he was on this way to making the roster in ‘06’ when he suffered the dreaded high ankle sprain in the final preseason game against the Tennessee Titans. Instead he ended up riding the injured reserve list which may have been a blessing. With a full off season of work in Green Bay and a year under his belt learning the offense – maybe, just maybe Arliss will avoid injury and finally get his long awaited day at the Beach.
    ===============================================================

    P.J. Pope, a 5-9 220 lb 22 year old was snatched from da bear’s practice squad and put on the Packers’ roster last season. Say what you will about the Bears, but running backs is one thing they seem to have ample supply of, and Pope was good enough for them to want to retain him. P.J. has soft hands and is a tough runner.

    Popee put up big numbers as a rusher and receivers in his sophomore and junior seasons (all-conference) at Bowling Green where he is the only player in their history to rush for more than 3000 yards and accumulate more than 1,000 yards in receptions. He played big in Bowl games rushing for 157 and 2 TDs against Memphis and 214 yards vs. Western Michigan

    During the pre-season , Pope led the Bears in rushing with 153 yard and a touchdown and had 4 catches for 4.3 yards. It was enough to gain him a spot on their practice squad and they were not pleased to lose him to the Packers.
    ===============================================================
    The Fullbacks:
    Brandon Miree is the heir apparent starting fullback of the Green Bay Packers. He is not a blow them up blocker like Henderson once was, but he is a great athlete with speed and versatility that belies a man his size. Brandon ran a 4.42 40 on an indoor track and 4.58 outdoors and once put up a 10.6 in the 100 meter dash.

    Another thing Miree, a solid TB in college, does well that Henderson never could is run with the ball, something that McCarthy would like to do more with the FB in his version of WC offense.

    At 6 foot 240 lbs, Miree is a tough downhill runner who is strong enough to get that tough yard and with enough burst to run away from defenders if they hesitate. He has a well cut muscular frame with thick legs and broad shoulders and runs with a low pad level which is essential for success in the Pros. He came into the league with a reputation for holding on to the rock well despite being a runner who keeps his legs driving a guy who wants to fight for every extra inch possible. However, one of the reasons he transferred from Alabama to Pittsburgh is he struggled with fumbling early in his career with the Crimson Tide.

    Brandon also has soft hands and should be able to fill the job required of a WC FB in snaring his share of passes on check-downs, screens and passes to the flats. His speed should give the ability to do something with it once he catches it too.

    He played in a zone blocking scheme at Pittsburgh and was a solid, but not devastating blocker who can reach his target and engage well.

    Miree captured the attention of the Packer’s coaching staff immediately upon arriving in GB. he flat out beat Henderson out for the starting job. Before injuring his elbow he was getting all of the snaps and after returning to play hurt with a brace, Brandon still split the job down the Packers very productive stretch in December.
    [​IMG]
    ===============================================================
    Korey Hall, 6-0 3/8 , 236 pounds, was a three-year starter and a two-year captain at linebacker for last season’s undefeated Boise State. Hall’s performance as a LB last season was good enough to earn him second-team all-American by the Sporting News and was the Western Athletic Conference defensive player of the year after finishing 2006 with 105 tackles, 6½ tackles for loss, 3½ sacks and six interceptions. However, his lack of height and pedestrian speed led the Packers to draft Korey and immediately switch him to fullback, a position he hadn't played since high school.

    He has surprisingly good hands for a guy who has been playing LB throughout his collegian career – which partially accounts for his 6 interceptions last season. The staff sees him as having the physique to eventually become a very proficient lead blocker, as he is a good blocker in the open field, has a great motor, a the kind of heart for the game that could make him a special teams monster if he makes the squad. Special teams’ coach Stock was drooling at the prospect of having this young man on special teams, who he called “a very good tackler, a real head hunter."

    "He's a football player," McCarthy said. "He'd probably tell you he's not sure where he's going sometimes, but he's an instinctive football player, plays with good pad level. You just see a lot of his natural instinctive things that he does."
    ===============================================================

    Ryan Powdrell, 5-11, 254 pounds, was signed as an undrafted FB from USC. Like Hall, Powdrell is a former LB, but switched to fullback as a senior last season. Some people saw him as a possible late draft pick, and the Packers were excited to bring him in to compete with the other young prospects at FB.

    ***See Wynn and Herron above under halfbacks.***
     
  2. Arles

    Arles Cheesehead

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    Interesting writeup - nice work.

    I disagree with your premise though in stating that the losses of Green and Henderson are major ones. Henderson was beaten out by Miree last camp and only played when Miree got hurt. Green averaged 75 ypg and 4 ypc. Both Noah Herron and Morency were more productive in their carries than Green.

    With the additions of Jackson and the other rookies, a healthy Miree, plus allowing Morency a full season in our system, I think we should be stronger at RB than last season. Add in another season of development for the young interior line and all signs point to a better running game.
     
  3. Arles

    Arles Cheesehead

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    You aren't kiddin! I would love to see a 5-10, 338 pound guy run a 4.47. Although, I'm not sure the laws of physics would allow it ;)
     
  4. Bruce

    Bruce Cheesehead

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    That would be interesting -- thanks for pointing out the typo, I'll go back and correct it.
     
  5. Greg C.

    Greg C. Cheesehead

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    Good to have you back on the board, Bruce. I like it that, with the exception of Wynn, these guys seem like FOOTBALL PLAYERS rather than just size-and-speed guys. I would like to see Miree reassert himself this season after being so banged up at the end of last year. It would be fun to see our fullback carrying the ball some of the time. Henderson was Superman as a blocker but when he carried the ball it was like he was carrying a piece of kryptonite. And that's not intended as a knock on William--I doubt that I will ever see a better fullback than him in a Green Bay uniform.

    (Edit: Henderson didn't do well on handoffs, but when the caught the ball in the open field he ran people over and sometimes jumped right over them. I think he just needed some time to build up a head of steam, and he couldn't do that on handoffs.)
     
  6. Packnic

    Packnic Cheesehead

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    dont you mean 238... cause 338 is a lineman.
     
  7. Bertram

    Bertram Cheesehead

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    Thompson is building this team like the Cowboys did, the Rams did and many others.

    I see a lot of similarities to what happened in Dallas in the beginning of the 90's. The Cowboys got rid of their old banged up players that weren't conditioned and fit enough to contribute much longer, replaced them with young guys. Many of these young guys weren't as talented as the old guys had been, but they were young and had a lot of juice and they were ok and together as a unit they became great.

    Dallas got rid of their banged up RB just in time, he didn't contribute much after leaving Dallas and they built their team through the draft. This is how they became one of the best teams of the 90's.
     
  8. all about da packers

    all about da packers Cheesehead

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    Great read, as usual, Bruce. :thumbsup:

    My only issue with Mirree is that he has been injured every year he has been in the NFL. Were it not for Willie stepping up last season, we'd have been in serious trouble at FB once Miree went down. I just hope we get to see what Brandon Miree can do with a full off-season as a Packer under his belt in Rock's program during each of the 16 games the Packers play. I don't think we can afford to see him get injured.
     
  9. Pack93z

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

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    Major difference, the Vikings game the Cowboys 7 extra picks in the first three rounds of the next two drafts... albeit it we have been stock piling picks... almost all of them are second day picks.

    The Queens rolled out the red carpet for the 'Boys.

    Bruce I read that on the PackerChatters yesterday... excellent job :)
     
  10. Bertram

    Bertram Cheesehead

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    actually only 5 ;)

    they gave up two third rounders, anyway it was a great deal, but hey we traded away Walker for some picks only thing is he contributed to the team he was sent to.
     
  11. Pack93z

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

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    Oct. 12, 1989: The Herschel Walker trade: The Vikings trade Issiac Holt, David Howard, Darrin Nelson, Jesse Solomon, Alex Stewart and what ends up to be three first-round picks, three second-rounds picks, a third-round pick and a sixth-round pick to Dallas. The Cowboys use the picks to select Emmitt Smith and others to help them win three Super Bowls.

    They turned them into actually a total of eight, I didn't count the 6th rounder ;)
     
  12. Green_Bay_Packers

    Green_Bay_Packers Cheesehead

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  13. Bertram

    Bertram Cheesehead

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    however you still don't mention the two third rounders dallas gave up :D
     
  14. Pack93z

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

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    I stand corrected... (5)

    Minnesota Vikings
    RB Herschel Walker
    Dallas's 3rd round pick - 1990 (54)
    San Diego's 5th round pick - 1990 (116)
    Dallas's 10th round pick - 1990 (249)
    Dallas's 3rd round pick - 1991 (68)

    Dallas Cowboys
    LB Jesse Solomon
    LB David Howard
    CB Isaac Holt
    RB Darrin Nelson
    DE Alex Stewart
    Minnesota's 1st round pick in 1990 (21)
    Minnesota's 2nd round pick in 1990 (47)
    Minnesota's 6th round pick in 1990 (158)
    Minnesota's 1st round pick in 1991 (conditional) - (11)
    Minnesota's 2nd round pick in 1991 (conditional) - (38)
    Minnesota's 1st round pick in 1993 (conditional) - (13)
    Minnesota's 2nd round pick in 1992 (conditional) - (40)
    Minnesota's 3rd round pick in 1992 (conditional) - (71)
     
  15. Bertram

    Bertram Cheesehead

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    what a poor trade for the vikings lol
     
  16. Timmons

    Timmons Cheesehead

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    Bruce. Great article. There is one more typo. You have a but where there should be a put.

    As for the meat of it. Good work. I constantly look forward to your insights on our players, especially as they come by position.

    Futhermore, it's also a pleasure to read a thread that's got meat to it and doesn't spin into off topic arguments.

    It's good to read you again.
     
  17. Zombieslayer

    Zombieslayer Cheesehead

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    Great post, as always. Thanks for your analysis.

    Good to know BJack has hands. That was something I was worried about.
     

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