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Tag:Greg Jennings
Posted on: January 29, 2012 10:48 pm
 

Pro Bowl incentives don't pan out

V. Jackson played in the Pro Bowl (AP).By Josh Katzowitz

A couple new exciting (!) features this season were supposed to make this year’s Pro Bowl slightly more palatable. It didn’t exactly work.

The first change was to make it a more financially-sound decision for the players to give an effort by rewarding the winning players with $50,000 and the losers a paltry $25,000.*

So, how’d that work out? Well, look at the tweet from Bears radio sideline reporter @ZachZaidman, who tweeted the following in the first quarter: “I'd rather watch players in the Pro Bowl tweet about playing in the Pro Bowl than watch them play in the Pro Bowl.”

Indeed, most of the effort given in Hawaii was rather, um, lacking. Which is totally understandable and to be expected. There’s no sense in badly injuring yourself in order to triumph in a glorified All Star game. So, no matter the monetary incentive, an extra $25,000 isn’t going to make the risk/reward ratio any different.

* For the record, this is similar to what Will Brinson proposed last year when he wrote the NFL should make it a winner-take-all event.

“Make it winner-take-all so that each player's legitimately motivated to win the game and make the Pro Bowl competitive,” Will wrote.

Heck of an idea by Will and the NFL. Unfortunately, it didn’t work.


The second change, though, really could have been interesting. Well, as interesting as anything else the Pro Bowl could offer.

The NFL relaxed its in-game tweeting prohibition and actually set up computer stations on the sideline so players could instantly translate their in-game ramblings into 140-word thoughts. It was, um, not so exciting.

Or as the Newark Star Ledger’s @StevePoliti tweeted, “Tweeting stations. I turned on the Pro Bowl, and they're talking about tweeting stations."

Here’s a sampling of what entered our feed during the game.

@MillerLite40 (Von Miller): first series was great!!! it was an honor just to be on the field with all the guys!!!! #gigem #probowl

@ajgreen_18 (A.J. Green): first pro bowl TD!!! blessed!! #probowl

@GregJennings: Having a blast out here... bout to go out on O to catch some more passes!!

@ericweddle1: Truly blessed to be here! Such a amazing atmosphere #GREATFUL

To sum it all up, here’s “Late Show with David Letterman” (#onCBS!) head writer Eric Stangel, who penned the following, “Remember everyone, with the #ProBowl, this year- it counts! And by "counts" I mean is a complete waste of everyone's time."

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Posted on: January 16, 2012 7:43 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2012 11:19 pm
 

Coughlin upset by 2 calls vs. GB, NFL explains

Tom Coughlin is oh-fer on his last eight challenges. (NFL.com)

By Ryan Wilson

NFL fans are familiar with Bill Leavy. He was the official in Super Bowl XL, often referred to as "that game where the Steelers were gifted the Lombardi Trophy over the Seahawks." After two controversial calls in Sunday's Giants-Packers game, Leavy is back, again for the wrong reasons.

First, there was what appeared to be a Greg Jennings fumble in which he was initially ruled down by contact. The Giants challenged, replays showed that Jennings had in fact fumbled, and all that was left was for Leavy to emerge from under the hood and announce that it was New York's ball. Except that didn't happen. Instead, inexplicably, he declared that "the ruling on the field stands."

(We went into this in great detail in Monday's Pick-6 Podcast, as well if the NFL should go to full-time officials. Spoiler alert: No. Either way, you can listen below.)


On Monday, the league explained Leavy's decision (via PFT).

“Rule 7, Section 2, Article 1 of the NFL Rule Book (page 35) states: ‘An official shall declare the ball dead and the down ended: (a) when a runner is contacted by a defensive player and touches the ground with any part of his body other than his hands or feet,’” the league said in a statement emailed to PFT by NFL spokesman Greg Aiello. “So by rule, if Jennings’ calf was on the ground prior to the ball coming loose, he is down by contact. Contrary to what was suggested during the game, there is no need for the runner’s knee to be on the ground.”

Uh-huh. We suppose you could look at this replay and say that maybe Jennings' shin (really, the shin?) was down before the ball came out. But you could also argue that Jennings lost possession before his shin contacted the turf.


Jennings sure looked like he fumbled.

In general, we don't like to whinge about the officiating because by the end of the season, it usually evens out for everybody. And credit to New York. Despite two atrocious calls (the other was when Osi Umenyiora was flagged for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Aaron Rodgers even though no part of his helmet came close to Rodgers' head), they won by 37-20.

A day later, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin remained confused by the two calls. He was asked Monday if there was anything on film that made the Jennings' non-fumble clearer. “There is but I won’t get into it,’’ he said.

And Umenyiora's roughing-the-passer penalty?

“Aggressive football play,’’ Coughlin said via the New York Post. “The quarterback is following through as he releases the ball. The hit is from the side. There’s not helmet involved. It’s from the shoulders to waist. We’ll coach that one forever.’’

Now all that's left if for Leavy to apologize to the Giants and their fans. That generally takes about four years.

Here's what he told the media in August 2010, unprompted:

"It was a tough thing for me. I kicked two calls in the fourth quarter [of Super Bowl XL between the Steelers and Seahawsk] and I impacted the game and as an official you never want to do that. It left me with a lot of sleepless nights and I think about it constantly. I'll go to my grave wishing that I'd been better. I know that I did my best at that time, but it wasn't good enough. When we make mistakes, you got to step up and own them. It's something that all officials have to deal with, but unfortunately when you have to deal with it in the Super Bowl it's difficult."

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Posted on: January 15, 2012 6:24 pm
 

Eli's Hail Mary gives Giants 20-10 lead at half

Nicks had a monster first half, including a Hail Mary reception to end the half. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

With six seconds on the clock before halftime, the Giants declined to try a 55-yard field goal at Lambeau Field and let Eli Manning chunk a Hail Mary ... which ended up in the hands of Hakeem Nicks for an incredible touchdown that stunned Packers fans and gave the Giants a 20-10 lead going into half.

The sad part is, the Giants are up by 10, and it could be much more: a would-be Greg Jennings fumble wasn't overturned by Bill Leavy's crew, and the Packers went on to score their only touchdown of the game.

Manning's been great for the most part, but he's made some mistakes, including a terrible pass that was picked by Morgan Burnett. The Packers haven't been sharp at all, but it's not Aaron Rodgers fault: his receivers spent the first half acting like the pigskin was soaked in Vaseline.

It looks like, on its face, a classic case of a team that's "too well-rested" after having a three-week layoff. The Giants, on the other hand, are outgaining the Packers 311 to 170, and were it not for a few bad breaks and New York failing to find the end zone in both trips to the red zone, would probably be up several touchdowns.

If the Packers want a shot at repeating, they're going to need some serious adjustments at halftime.

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Posted on: January 15, 2012 5:58 pm
 

Packers get lucky on Greg Jennings fumble review

Maybe Jenning's, uh, foot was on the ground? (Mocksession.com)
By Will Brinson

The Packers caught a tremendous break in the first half of Sunday's NFC Divisional Round matchup against the Giants, as Greg Jennings clearly fumbled a ball and neither an on-field ruling nor replay could "confirm" that he did so. The Packers kept the ball and scored a touchdown five plays later to tie the game at 10-10.

On first and 10 from the Giants 38-yard line, Aaron Rodgers hit Jennings on a six-yard pass. Jennings fumbled the ball while being tackled and the Giants recovered.

The play was initially ruled a fumble but the officiating crew overturned that call on the field and said that Jennings was down. Tom Coughlin was, for all intents and purposes, forced to challenge the play. He did so and the visual evidence indicated rather clearly (see: above) that the ball was loose before Jennings hit the ground.

However, Bill Leavy announced to the crowd that the ruling on the field would stand. The Packers kept the ball and scored a touchdown.

It was a terrible break for the Giants, an unbelievable stroke of luck for the Packers, and a pretty good reason for wondering if there needs to be another safeguard in the review process.

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Posted on: January 12, 2012 6:32 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2012 8:43 am
 

Film Room: Packers vs. Giants divisional preview


Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

We can only hope this game is as entertaining as the December 4th shootout, which Green Bay won on a brilliant last minute field goal drive.

Since that day the Packers have looked mortal and the Giants have grown white hot. Can Round II produce a different outcome? Here’s the breakdown.


1. Slowing the Pack’s aerial attack
The Giants used a diverse array of coverages against the Packers in the last meeting and actually had Aaron Rodgers a bit out of sorts early on. Still, even though he wasn’t as sharp as usual, Rodgers threw for 369 yards and four scores (not a bad “off day”).

New York’s two-deep safety zone looks gave Green Bay the most trouble, but the only way a defense can get away with playing zone against this offense a second time is if it sprinkles those zones with disguises and man concepts.

You can’t outsmart the Packers; you can only hope to out-execute them. Generally, that means winning press-man battles on the outside. That’s what Kansas City was able to do, though they have better press corners than New York and didn’t have to deal with Greg Jennings (out at the time with a knee).

The Packers do a great job creating one-on-one matchups for Greg Jennings through play design. In example A (left), Jennings ran his route against rookie Prince Amukamara to the outside, while Donald Drive ran down the seam. This combination eliminated the possibility of free safety Antrel Rolle helping the overmatched Amukamara, who was flagged for pass interference. In example B (right), Jennings aligned in the slot, away from the tight end and running back. Because Jennings was running an outside route from this alignment, there was no way a safety or linebacker could help cornerback Aaron Ross on this play.

Interesting side note: the Packers usually create one-on-one matchups for Jennings by lining him up as the X-receiver in a 1 x 3 set (in other words, Jennings all alone on the left side, three receivers on the right side). However, they did not throw a single pass to Jennings from this formation against the Giants in Week 13.


Without Jennings, a good secondary has a shot at stymieing this receiving corps (for not only are a Jennings-less Pack without their No. 1 receiver, but suddenly No. 2 receiver Jordy Nelson must face a No. 1 corner, No. 3 receiver Donald Driver must face a No. 2 corner and so on). With Jennings, a good secondary still isn’t enough; a defense needs help from up front.

Pressuring Rodgers is difficult with his speed. (Getty Images)

2. Pressuring Rodgers
It’s easy to say New York’s key is having its four-man pass-rush get to Rodgers. But that only matters if the pass-rush pressure equates to sacks.

In the last meeting, Jason Pierre-Paul absolutely owned backup left tackle Marshall Newhouse. Rodgers was under duress all afternoon. But all that meant was he ran around more before completing his throws. Rodgers is so athletic, so strong-armed and so good at keeping his eyes downfield that pass-rush pressure does not disrupt his rhythm, it merely alters it.

The Giants dominated the line of scrimmage last game and finished with just two sacks. Unless they get six or seven sacks (unlikely, especially with Green Bay getting Chad Clifton back), their pass-rush won’t be a difference-making factor.

3. Matching up to Finley
The Giants have shown a perplexing willingness to defend elite tight ends with linebacker Jacquian Williams this season. Against the Saints in Week 12, Williams at times defended Jimmy Graham while safety Antrel Rolle defended Darren Sproles.

The next week, Williams guarded Jermichael Finley while Rolle guarded ... James Starks. (Seriously?!) Finley wound up beating Williams’ in man coverage for 24 yards on the game-winning field goal drive and finished the day with six catches for 87 yards and a touchdown. (The damage would have been worse if he hadn’t dropped three balls.)

Will the Giants take this approach again, or will they go to their dime defense and treat Finley as a wide receiver (which they’ve also done at times against elite tight ends this season)? Going dime would allow Rolle to defend Finley, though it would also put vulnerable rookie Prince Amukamara on either Donald Driver or Jordy Nelson.

4. Giants offense
As you might surmise, the Packers offense has too many weapons for the Giants to defend. Hence, Eli Manning will be compelled to once again light up the scoreboard. As we’ve explored the past several weeks, Manning is razor sharp against the blitz. The belief here is that an attack-oriented defensive approach will not work against the eighth-year veteran.

But Green Bay isn’t built to play any other way – at least not out of their nickel package. Dom Capers’ scheme is predicated on creating one-on-one matchups for Clay Matthews by blitzing others and using Charles Woodson as a joker. This might yield yards, but it can also create interceptions (the Packers had 31 on the season, which was at least eight more than any other team).

Manning is a virtual lock for 300 yards, but if he can be coaxed into at least two picks, the Pack are a virtual lock to host the NFC Title game.

5. Unless…
The Giants control the game on the ground. This idea seemed absurd a few weeks ago, but lately New York’s front five has gelled and Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs have rediscovered their ability to break tackles running downhill.

The Giants spent a lot of time in base personnel last game, though primarily for passing purposes (they ran the ball just 20 times). They wanted to limit Capers’ nickel blitzes and also throw against Packers backup inside linebackers Rob Francois and D.J. Smith (who were playing for the injured Desmond Bishop and A.J. Hawk).

With the Packers back to full strength and the Giants’ passing game having significantly improved in three-receiver sets, throwing from base personnel might not be as big a factor this time round. But the ground game might be a bigger factor – especially if the Giants don’t believe the return of defensive lineman Ryan Pickett can suddenly stabilize Green Bay’s wavering run defense.

It will be fascinating to see how Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride calls the game early on.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all the Divisional Round games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: January 9, 2012 10:27 am
 

Pierre-Paul guarantees Giants win over Packers

Pierre-Paul guaranteed a New York victory in Green Bay on Saturday. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The New York Giants have a lot of confidence right now. That's totally understandable. But making guarantees about beating the defending-champion Packers, in Lambeau, already? That seems silly.

But it's not stopping Jason Pierre-Paul, who guaranteed a Giants win over the Packers on Sunday.

"We’re going to win," Pierre-Paul said, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. "One hundred percent we’re going to win ... because we’re the best."

Wild-Card Weekend Recap

The Giants are quite good. They might be the best team in the playoffs and it's great that JPP is confident. (Interestingly, the only quotes to make it onto the Giants official site are the follow-ups about how sure JPP is.) He should be, given the way the Giants dismantled Atlanta's offense on Sunday afternoon.

But the vibe we get from him is that the Packers aren't as pumped up about a rematch against the Giants. And that's simply not the case. There are plenty of guys on this roster who remember what happened back the last time the Giants won the Super Bowl.

"The team that kept us from our potential Super Bowl in 08 is back on OUR turf now," Jennings tweeted on Sunday. "Trust me,we haven't forgotten. Here. We ... GoPackGo! #BeGreat"

What's interesting to us is the heavy amount of comparisons to the 2007 season. Obviously, there are some similarities. But there are a lot of differences as well. For one, the Packers are better. (And maybe the Giants are better too.)

“We might be a better team than we were in ’07, but I think Green Bay is a better than they were in ’07, too," Tuck said per our Giants Rapid Reporter Alex Raskin.

The more logical comparison, then, is to the last time these teams played. Which, uh, was this year. That game was played in New York, but the Packers still managed to win 38-35.

Which is why, regardless of how confident Pierre-Paul is, he might want to consider scaling back any public declarations about the outcome of the game until victory is actually in hand.

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Posted on: January 1, 2012 11:46 am
Edited on: January 1, 2012 1:02 pm
 

Aaron Rodgers inactive for the Packers

Rodgers

By Josh Katzowitz

Without the possibility of an undefeated season and with a No. 1 seed already locked up for the NFC playoffs, it was thought that quarterback Aaron Rodgers, though he might play a little today, probably wouldn’t go the whole way.

Now, we know for sure he won’t play at all.

That’s because Rodgers is among the Packers inactives for today’s game vs. the Lions. Also inactive are linebacker Clay Matthews, receiver Greg Jennings, running back James Starks, tackle Bryan Bulaga and cornerback Charles Woodson.
 
That means quarterback Matt Flynn will get the second start of his career, and it’ll be interesting to see if he can repeat last year’s performance vs. the Patriots in which Flynn played well and nearly did enough to beat New England.

“I’m not really trying to go out there and prove anything to anybody or the rest of the NFL,” Flynn said earlier this week. “I’m going to go out there and try to win the game. My job as the backup is to do my best to not let there be too much of a drop-off at the position.

“Go in there, execute the offense, move the chains and put points up. That’s my job, and that’s all it should be.”

As the Packers team website points out, Rodgers has officially broken Peyton Manning's record for the highest-ever season passer rating. Rodgers will finish the season with a rating of 122.5, better than Manning's 121.4 rating in 2004.


Follow all the Week 17 action live: Inactives | Scoreboard

1 p.m. ET games:
DET-GB | TEN-HOU | IND-JAC | NYJ-MIA | CHI-MIN | BUF-NE | CAR-NO | WAS-PHI | SF-STL

4 p.m. ET games:
TB-ATL | BAL-CIN | PIT-CLE | SEA-ARI | KC-DEN | SD-OAK




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Posted on: December 12, 2011 6:40 pm
 

Greg Jennings should return in 2-3 weeks

Jennings should be ready to go by the playoffs. (Getty Images)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

File this under: living right. On Sunday, Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings suffered a knee injury and there were concerns that it could be enough to end his season. During his Monday press conference, head coach Mike McCarthy said that Jennings suffered a sprained knee, is expected to miss a "couple of weeks' and that “he [should] be back for the playoffs.”

The Packers ran their record to 13-0 after whipping up on the Raiders in Week 14, and their remaining regular-season games (at Kansas City, Chicago, Detroit) point to the real possibility of 16-0. It would be the second time in four years a team has made it through the regular season undefeated (if you're just back from Mars, the Patriots did it in 2007).

And while the never-ending stories about the feat would quickly become tiresome, they'll we welcome next to the inevitable "Hey, we wonder what Mercury Morris thinks about this?" angles.

(For the sake of all mankind, here's to hoping the Packers lose before the playoffs. It would be the ultimate example of taking one for the team.)

With Jennings on the shelf until the playoffs, McCarthy will look to others to pick up the slack.

“We feel we have enough to move forward,” he said. “Greg will be missed, but with that, it’s more opportunities for the other perimeter players.”

While Jennings leads the teams in receptions (67), Jordy Nelson has more receiving yards (957 to 949) and tight end Jermichael Finley has a higher yards-per-catch average (14.3 to 14.2). Then there's veteran wideout Donald Driver and rookie Randall Cobb, who have combined for 50 receptions and five touchdowns this season. Oh, and Aaron Rodgers, 2011 NFL MVP, is still under center.

Thankfully, Jennings will be good to go in a few weeks. But even if he's not, the Packers -- with no shortage of big-play threats -- would still be a huge favorite to win it all.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com