Ask An Angel: Contract Extensions, Clifton Returns and Vic Asks The Angels
The Pocket Doppler Angels group is made up of the women that contribute to PocketDoppler.com, the moniker in homage to Charlie’s Angels. Individually and combined this group is as knowledgeable about the Packers, football & sports as anyone out there. Every other week or so they’ll answer your submitted questions on the Packers, football or other topics submitted. Feel free to submit non-Packers/football questions as well. Colleen would love to talk NASCAR with you, Kelly & Anita are ready to discuss the Badgers and college football, Amanda can regale you with her MLB & baseball knowledge or Jayme will explain to you why soccer is not just a European sport. In this edition, we introduce to you our newest Angel, Annie. Welcome her to the Pocket Doppler family and follow her on Twitter at @avanepern23. To submit your question today, click here or on Twitter, @PDAngels.
Mark asks: Who will get an extension first, Scott Wells or Jermichael Finley?
Kelly Answers: This is a hard question to seperate emotion from common sense. You probably all know I am not enamored with Jermichael Finley’s dropped balls and am even less thrilled by his diva tendencies. But subtract that from the equation and I’m still going to go with Scott Wells first. And believe it or not, it has absolutely nothing to do with Finley’s caliber of play nor his behavior.
A few weeks ago I wrote a very tongue-in-cheek article about which Packers would survive a zombie apocalypse and picked Scott Wells as one of the few. I did so because he plays such an integral role in Aaron Rodgers’ success. If there were no Scott Wells on the line, I don’t think we’d be looking at Aaron Rodgers the same way. The Packers have already proved that they are a Super Bowl champion team without Finley’s talents. I don’t think the same could be said if the team was minus Wells.
Despite the concerns going on with the current musical chairs the Offensive Line is playing, Wells is quietly having a Pro Bowl quality type of year. He’s there for every offensive snap. He’s about as reliable as Old Faithful. Sure, you hear very little about him, but that doesn’t mean he is doing an outstanding job. He protects the quarterback and gives him enough time to work his magic either in the air, the check down or the play action fake. Yes, the current state of the O-line gives me pause, but I would be a heck of a lot more concerned if Wells turned up on one the injury reports.
Yes, the squeakiest wheel always tends to get the grease, but I think if I had to prioritize these two players, my vote will have to go to the silent bodyguard over the noisy playmaker.
Ben asks: When Chad Clifton is able to play, does he start? Or should he be a backup?
Annie Answers: Ah yes, the return of Spiffy Cliffy! And what perfect timing, right? Well, I wouldn’t bet all my chips just yet…..
Hate to state the obvious again, but we all know the offensive line is in desperate need of some TLC. Having tackle Chad Clifton return from the hamstring injury he suffered in Week 5 vs. Atlanta, and then the more serious back injury he suffered as of late, seems essential to what this OL needs to run full throttle into the playoffs. However, McCarthy and Co. do not seem to be in a rush to lace up the gloves and throw Clifton back into the ring. They have been treating this injury with extreme caution as Clifton is set to resume individual drills (not team drills) this week.
With virtually zero depth on the offensive line, the coaching staff was already forced with challenges going into last week’s Kansas City game. The offense took a huge blow in the game when Bryan Bulaga (sprained knee) and Derek Sherrod (fractured leg) sustained substantial injuries, Sherrod’s being season ending. That forced the coaching staff to, once again, play musical linemen and finish the game with Marshall Newhouse at left tackle, Evan Dietrich-Smith moving to left guard, and T.J. Lang holding down the right tackle spot. McCarthy made a point of saying in his early week presser that the plan right now is to start the offensive line this Sunday vs. the Bears as they ended vs. Kansas City. Having to evaluate the options, the Packers went ahead and signed Herb Taylor to the lineup as well. Taylor will, at very least, add 1 more body to the depth chart. However, it’s safe to say at this point that Taylor will have a spot on the line before Clifton does, especially if Clifton is not 100% yet.
The next 2 weeks are going to be a very crucial test for the offensive line. Julius Peppers is going to be salivating at the chance to bust through with #12 in his crosshairs. Of course, keeping our beloved QB #1 upright is the main focus, so it’s highly unlikely they would throw Clifton, who hasn’t played a down since early October, right smack dab in the middle of an already weakened system and hope for the best. There have been talks for weeks of Clifton returning, yet he is just now being scheduled for drills. Returning too soon has extreme potential of ruining what’s left of the season for him, while putting Rodgers at risk of multiple mouthfuls of turf. If anything, McCarthy and crew will take a conservative approach with Clifton and ease him in slowly and with a watchful eye.
If Packer Santa is good to us, and we see a huge amount of progress in Clifton’s heath and performance in practice and on the field in the next 2-3 weeks, then there is a possibility of having the 2-time Pro Bowler back as a starter by the first week of playoffs. However, I believe at this time #76 will not see the starting lineup just yet. We will know more as the week rolls on and into game day. Until then, hold the Cliffy chips.
Eric asks: Does it make sense for AJ Hawk to start again, based on the play of DJ Smith? Should Smith stay in the starting lineup?
Jayme Answers: I’ve always been a fan of Hawk, so I think I’m a little biased in answering this. Last season Hawk really grew on me as a leader on this defense. His weaknesses are 1. He’s not Clay Matthews and 2. for a long time most of his tackles were more arm wrap ups and well beyond the line of scrimmage. I think he’s been improving in those areas, which is why this season he has been a clear starter. With his injury, Smith and Francois stepped up well and a lot of people seemed to question whether Hawk should get his starting job back. Specifically, Smith has some quality tackles this season and isn’t too far behind Hawk in that category. Smith has 41 tackles and Hawk has 68, although Hawk has 40 solo tackles nearly equal to Smith’s total with assists. Hawk is like the quarterback of the offense, I feel a lot more comfortable with someone with Hawk’s knowledge running the defense, than one of two younger guys. Having said that, Hawk and Smith (and Francois) play different style of defense. The younger guys are clearly better in defending the pass with Hawk better at defending the run (Hawk has yet to defend a pass). Hawk should definitely remain the starter, but I believe that the younger guys will make their way more into the defense on passing downs. Jason Wilde said on Cheesehead Radio last night that the goal should be to find a way to get more of these guys on the field at the same time, and I completely agree.
Vic asks: What is it you like best about “Ask Vic”?
Colleen Answers: Vic, there is so much to love about your posts! I mean…there’s….yeah. That good. Even this Angel can’t find the words to describe it.
That will do it for this week’s edition of Ask An Angel. If you’d like to be part of the excitement next time, go here and submit your question or ask on Twitter, @PDAngels & give the Angels a follow .