Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday signed Friday to play Sunday with Packers

I can't really take credit for that headline concept (darn it!). That was more or less an ESPN line. Something to the effect that "Jeff Saturday signed Friday to play Sunday." Well done, es-pen, well done indeed.

Anyway, the point of all the above is that veteran, venerable, free agent center Jeff Saturday was signed by the Green Bay Packers yesterday. He will replace the recently departed (in a team sense, not the final demise sense) Scott Wells. While some thought GM Ted Thompson should have re-signed Wells -- who is about 5 years younger than Saturday -- Thompson obviously had a different idea in mind.

It has been the speculation here, and elsewhere, that the Packers might just draft Wisconsin center Peter Konz if he's available when the Pack picks at #28 in the first round. Despite an abundance of needs on the defensive side of the ball, being able to now have a veteran mentor such as Saturday work with a rookie such as Konz who, by the way, can also play guard, might just be the ticket to a decade of offensive line stability for the Packers at the center position. The flip side of that argument, however, is that now that the Pack has a solid center in place they might be less likely to spend a 1st round pick on a center when other needs -- especially defensive line and outside linebacker -- are so clear.

But...wait a tick!...the Packers also announced a second free agent signing yesterday: D-lineman Daniel Muir. Muir actually began his career with the Packers. After moving on, he's become a serviceable player with other teams. Now, he's coming back to where it all started.

As someone said on Twitter yesterday, it's been 80 degrees in Wisconsin in March and Thompson signed not one but two free the same day...surely the apocalypse must not be far behind.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Packers 2012 home and away games announced

While we won't know the actual NFL schedule for the upcoming season until the end of this month, the NFL was kind enough to release the home and away games for each team. We obviously already know that we play our NFC North division opponents. But what about the other games? Here's how things are going to fall, in no particular order, for the Green Bay Packers in the 2012 regular season:

Home: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans Saints, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans.

Away: Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks, New York Giants, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts.

The season will open with the Super Bowl Champion Giants playing at home against an as-yet unnamed opponent. It could very well be the Packers, but it's not a lock. This game will occur on a Wednesday, Sept. 5, instead of the usual Thursday opener. The reason? It was moved so as not to conflict with the last day of the Democratic National Convention and a likely primetime speech by President Obama.

Now, I seem to recall already seeing a NBC promotion for the Packers hosting the Saints at Lambeau Field for the first actual Thursday night game of the season. Given that the Saints are on the home schedule, this seems like a fit. Which begs the question: could this season start with the Pack kicking off things away versus the Giants and then at home the following week against the Saints, with then about a 10-day break until game #3? Could be. And might not be all bad. Often better to catch some of the better teams early in the season rather than late. Of course, other teams could say the same about playing the Packers, too.

Anyway, the season is no cakewalk. The NFC North, with the exception of the hapless ViQueens, will be better than last season, with both Da Bearz and Lions making some roster moves. And the rest of the schedule is enough to also look at each game as a battle.

It's obviously too far from the start of the season to have a feel for how things could go. But you just know that it's going to be one heckuva ride regardless.

Go Pack Go!!!

Packers Matt Flynn will soon get his free agent deal

Still playing catch up here, Packers fans. Wrote yesterday about the loss in free agency of Pro Bowl center Scott Wells to the Rams. Speculated a bit about how the Packers may try to replace him. (See that post for more.) But thought we'd just do a brief bits and bites thingie (that is official blogger-ese, by the way) about some other things going on with the Green Bay Packers at the moment. Let's begin with another free agent, shall we?

QB Matt Flynn on tour
Perhaps the biggest speculation prior to the start of free agency was whether or not the Pack would franchise tag their backup QB, Matt Flynn, in the hopes of getting something for him when he left. Apparently, without a firm sign-and-trade arrangement in hand (and which more or less violates the spirit of the tag concept anyway), the Packers weren't willing to gamble with a reported $14 million tag on Mr. Flynn. If they couldn't unload Flynn they'd be stuck with the contract. tag and Flynn is on his free agent tour. Likely spots for him to land? Anywhere Peyton Manning doesn't. It has been highly speculated that Flynn would probably wind up in Miami. Yet today, it's reported that 49'ers free agent QB Alex Smith was paying a visit to the Dolphins. Hmmm. The other likely team for Flynn is the Seahawks.

It was generally regarded that most if not all free agent quarterbacks looking for a starting job would wait until Manning signs and then the scramble would begin. Flynn's father, however, has just said that his son's decision will come soon. So perhaps waiting for Manning to sign isn't going to be part of the plan after all.

While Flynn's actual playing time has been brief he's obviously been impressive when given the chance. As in franchise record-setting-game impressive, let's remember. Analysts, however, wonder whether he could hold up for an entire NFL season as a starter. No one knows. (Although I think I remember similar concerns being expressed about a guy currently wearing #12 for the Packers and who has seemed to do pretty well.) But Flynn's smart, has had time to season behind another great quarterback (hmm, where we have seen that model before?), and is ready to lead. I have no clue where he'll wind up. Wherever it is, he certainly won't have the offensive talent around him he had in Green Bay. But I think he'll do well, at least as compared to what passes for quarterbacking in many places in the league. He may or may not wind up being a top-tier QB; many factors determine that, some of which he has no control over. But he'll do well, I believe. And I wish him good luck. He was fun to watch and he was a true security blanket knowing he was behind Aaron Rodgers.

(There's still more to catch up on...and will do so in upcoming posts. Please keep checking back for more, or follow @packfansunited on'll then know when we have a full update here.)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Yes, Packers will need a new man in the middle

My last post here nearly a month ago -- sorry for taking so long (various busy-ness), but it is the offseason, right? -- dealt with the notion that it was likely the Green Bay Packers would lose their Pro Bowl Center, Scott Wells, in free agency. And that in fact, is just what happened. It was reported yesterday that Wells agreed to a deal with the St. Louis Rams. We wish Mr. Wells the best and thank him for his great service to the Packers. This last season, arguably, was probably his best as a member of the Pack. Viewed by some as a bit undersized, he made up for that with attitude and technique. A lot players would do well to model themselves on Wells' work ethic.

But now what? Where do the Packers go from here? There really is no heir apparent for the position. They have a player or two, perhaps, that could fill in for a brief time, but they are not your prototypical center. Evan Dietrich-Smith can be serviceable, but he is better suited to guard. The only other player on the roster with center credentials is rookie Sampson Genus. OK...moving right along...

The Packers will obviously have to address this position in the draft and/or free agency. There are a number of good centers available, 13 at last count (if the reference list is current). Reports circulated last month that the Packers had talked with former Texans center Chris Meyers' agent, Drew Rosenhaus. Other than that, who knows? A few of the free agents are a bit long in the tooth and would be stop gaps at best. But, as is typical with the Pack, you don't hear much about who they are talking to or what they will do. GM Ted Thompson would be a great poker player as he keeps things very tight to the vest, indeed. He could bring in one of these centers to act as a veteran mentor to a rookie and may well in fact do just that if the price is right.

But whether or not they acquire a free agent center, it's the opinion here that the Pack will look to the draft to fill their need. I'm of the admittedly hopeful opinion that the Packers will draft Wisconsin center Peter Konz, generally regarded as the best center prospect in this draft. And, in fact, there are some mock draft boards out there that have Konz being selected by the Packers with the 28th overall pick. There's also some speculation that he may not last that late in the first round. Would the Packers move up to get a player that could anchor their offensive line for the next decade? You bet. While it normally goes against Thompson's draft tendencies, he has moved up on occasion in recent years when there is someone he sees as unique, e.g., Clay Matthews. Konz is 6'5", 313 lbs, and was a three-year starter for the Badgers. Another plus for Konz: he can also play guard...and we know how much the Packers like players who can play multiple positions. If Konz is off the board, the next best centers are supposedly Ben Jones of Georgia and Michael Brewster of Ohio State.

Of course, with the Packers' need for outside linebacker help opposite Matthews, they could go that direction instead in the first round. If that's the strategic decision, it's hard to argue with, especially if they can pick up a player such as Jones or Brewster in the second or third round.

But for what it's worth from this viewpoint, if Konz is available at number 28...well, this blogger's fingers (and toes) are crossed for that pick.

(There are bits and bites of other Packers-related news to catch up on...but we'll do that in later posts. Happy St. Patty's day to you!)