August 26, 2015 - Greg Gabriel
Will the loss of Jordy Nelson really hurt the Packers?
In Sunday afternoon's NFL preseason game between Green Bay and Pittsburgh, the Packers lost star receiver Jordy Nelson to an ACL tear. For most teams, this would be a difficult loss to overcome, but in the case of the Packers, it may not be as bad as it looks. Green Bay General Manager Ted Thompson does an excellent job putting a roster together, and he always finds ways to find players to fill in when a starter goes down. The best example of this was in 2010 season when over 10 players, many of whom were starters, were placed on injured reserve. The Pack won the Super Bowl that year. Part of the reason is the system. They have, basically, been in the same offensive system since 2006 when Mike McCarthy became the Head Coach. Thompson and the Packers personnel department find plays who are fits for that system, and the coaching staff does an excellent job developing the players. That is the case at the wide receiver position. In the 2014 NFL Draft, the Packers drafted three wide receivers. Fresno State’s Davante Adams was selected in the second round, Wisconsin’s Jared Abbrederis came in the fifth round, and Saginaw Valley’s Jeff Janis was a seventh round selection. Adams became a significant player as a rookie, especially later in the season and the playoffs. Janis was a role player as a rookie, and Abbrederis was on injured reserve with an ACL injury. Adams and Janis have had strong camps this year and are ready for bigger roles. Abbrederis has spent most of the time on the sidelines recovering from a concussion, but when and if he is ready to play, he can be a contributor. As for the depth chart, fifth year player Randall Cobb moves up to be the primary receiver. He was second in receptions to Nelson last year with 91 catches for 1287 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is ready to become a number one receiver in the league. Adams will become the starter opposite Cobb, and he is also ready for that role. As a rookie, he had 38 receptions, and now that he is comfortable within the system, he is ready to roll. He was one of the more physically gifted receivers in the 2014 draft and is capable of putting up big numbers. Janis is an interesting player. Coming from Saginaw Valley, he wasn’t as developed as much as players who came from BCS level schools, but he has the natural physical traits. He has great size (6’3 – 220) and speed (4.4) and is becoming a much better route runner. In the first two preseason games this year, he has five receptions, and I would bet he will get a lot of playtime this week in the dress rehearsal game. Don’t get me wrong, I am not underplaying the significance of Nelson’s injury, I just feel that because Green Bay is Green Bay, they will be able to overcome the injury much better than most. The Green Bay offense is a finely tuned machine led by Aaron Rodgers, who, in my opinion, is the best quarterback in football. While Nelson was his most trusted target, Rodgers will adapt, and the offense will still put up huge numbers. USC Bans Alcohol from their Football Locker Room This report came out late Monday evening. It was reported that last year during Head Coach Steve Sarkisian’s first season at USC, there was alcohol available to the coaches in the locker not only at home games but on the road as well. It was further reported that when Lane Kiffin was the Head Coach, alcohol was also available. The ban comes after Sarkisian got in trouble with the University after reportedly being drunk at a University football function this past Saturday. Why alcohol was available at all? Many college stadiums do not sell alcohol to the fans because the stadiums are on a college campus. If alcohol is available to the coaches in the locker room, who is to say that underage players aren’t enjoying a taste when someone isn’t looking? That can be a dangerous precedent and a liability waiting to happen. Reading that brought back memories of a funny story from 25 years ago. At that time, I was working as a scout for the New York Giants. On Labor Day weekend of 1990, I was assigned to watch the Long Beach State at Clemson game. Long Beach State was, of course, not a power, but what made this game interesting is they had a new head coach that season. The coach was none other than NFL Hall of Famer George Allen. Allen had not coached since the USFL folded in the mid 1980’s and was 72 at the time. That weekend I happened to be staying at the same hotel as the Long Beach State team in the Greenville-Spartanburg area. The night before the game, I was with George Allen’s son Bruce (now the president of the Redskins) and former Bills and Chargers General Manager, the late John Butler. We were in the lobby of the hotel talking football and swapping stories when Bruce told us this one….. When George Allen was coaching in the NFL, he would always have some beer available for his players after a game. His thought was that it helped replenish the fluids the players lost during the game. That afternoon, George was having a conversation with the Long Beach State Athletic Director about the coming game. He said to the AD (Corey Johnson) that because it was going to be so hot at game time, he needed three or four cases of beer for the players to drink after the game. The AD looked at George and said, “George, this isn’t the NFL, most of these kids aren’t old enough to drink. If you want to give them something to drink, it will have to be water”. George just looked at the AD still not realizing how young his players were and said, “Oh!” That was the last season George Allen coached football. When he was hired by Long Beach State, he promised the administration a winner. He fulfilled the promise by finishing the season with a 6-5 record. George Allen died shortly after the end of that season. He went out the winner he always was. Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe