Packers News Headlines: Rodgers, Peprah, Woodson & NFL Thursday Night

Legendary senior writer jclombardi highlights Packers headlines.

3 Packers make NFL Top 100: After Sunday’s airing of NFL Network’s The Top 100 Players of 2011 ( 10-part series determined by the votes of active players), three of the Super Bowl champion Packers were revealed including QB Aaron Rodgers, Super Bowl XLV’s MVP, who landed at No. 11: *11. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers;  16. Charles Woodson, CB, Packers; and 19. Clay Matthews III, OLB, Packers.  COMMENTARY: NFL Network analyst Marshall Faulk says, “When I look at the list, I base it off last year’s stats,” Faulk said. “And last year’s stats say the best quarterback in the league won the Super Bowl.” Faulk’s opinion likely covered the postseason as well, since New England Patriots star Tom Brady put up the best statistical season for a quarterback during the regular season, winning a league MVP award for his efforts. That said, Rodgers was no slouch during the regular season, throwing for 28 touchdowns and 3,922 yards in 15 starts. Dallas Cowboys defensive terror DeMarcus Ware (No. 12 on the list) was in-studio, where he explained Rodgers hasn’t bypassed other icons of his position just yet. “(Rodgers) is good, but you got Peyton Manning, you got Drew Brees and you have Tom Brady,” Ware said. “He could scoot up a little bit more numbers-wise, but he’s not above those quarterback.” OLB Matthews, the Pro Bowl linebacker for the Super Bowl champion Packers, was in Williamsburg on Sunday to take part in William and Mary’s Colonial All-Pro football camp. He showed youngsters, including one wearing a Peyton Manning jersey and another a Drew Brees one, how to get low and wrap up on tackles while exchanging exuberant high-fives and even a little trash talk. Matthews said Rodgers has solidified his place in the hearts of Green Bay fans – even those who might still have a soft spot for a certain grizzled QB who preceded him. “This is Aaron’s team,” Matthews said. “The quarterback is the most important position in any sport, and he’s definitely going to take us far. Obviously you need other players around him. He’ll be the first one to admit that, but without him, we wouldn’t be in the position we are today. He’s a fantastic athlete and he’s a fantastic person.”

Pro Football Focus ranks QB Rodgers number 2: This particular list is a bit different and is something we’ve not been able to do before. It’s the first in a series where we’ll take the sum of our grades from the last three years (with some weighting here and there), and get a look at who has accumulated the highest marks since 2008.  We focus on the best total grades for the past three years.  I’ve used some of my own interpretations of our gradings for quarterbacks, weighing our rushing and run blocking grades for them as three quarters the worth of the passing grade. Everyone surely has their own interpretation, but that’s mine. Here are the 10 quarterbacks we’ve graded best since 2008: 1. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts. It will surprise no one that our top ranked passer over the past three years is the great Peyton Manning. He was top of the rankings in 2008 and 2009, and finished second in 2010. Without him, it’s hard to imagine what the Colts would do, especially when you consider the state of his offensive line. He’ll give up a few interceptions, but nobody wins more games for their team. Grade:  +190.4. 2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers. Rodgers’ 2010 post season catapulted him up these rankings, where, in four games alone he had a passer rating of +23.5. Quite amazing stuff that makes him, but it’s not like it hasn’t been coming. He finished fourth in our overall QB grades in 2008 and 2009 before running away with the 2010 award (that earned him my vote for top player of 2010). An accurate passer, the GB QB has got better and better when faced with pressure after a slow start in this regard in 2008. Grade:  +184.15.

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CB Woodson & SS Peprah gets great evaluations: Football Outsiders has developed a “Stop Rate,” which is the percentage of plays “that prevent a successful play by the offense, defined as 45% of needed yards on first down, 60% of needed yards on second down, and 100% of needed yards on third or fourth down.” In other words, a “stop” is a successful defensive play, even if it results in a yardage gain by the offense. Schatz offers a number of applicable individual marks under this category. The NFC North highlights:  Bears nickel man D.J. Moore had 11 stops on 28 tackles against pass plays, a Stop Rate of 38 percent that ranked him No. 6 among NFL cornerbacks. Moore finished tied with Green Bay Packers cornerback Charles Woodson, whose tackling we often overlook. Woodson had 18 stops on 47 tackles against the pass; Packers safety Charlie Peprah had the best Stop Rate (44 percent) among safeties. Vikings safety Madieu Williams had the ninth-worst (6 percent). Those of us who watched both teams closely last season shouldn’t be surprised.

NFL promoting early 8 game schedule: The NFL is negotiating with TV networks about a new early-season eight-game package that would start as soon as next season, according to several sources. The potential Thursday night package could be worth as much as $700 million per year. Such a windfall, providing a sudden increase in overall league revenue, could help soften the blow to the players from the emerging labor deal in which they are likely to receive a smaller percentage of revenue than they previously have received.  COMMENTARY:  NFL Thursday nights hits prime time like NFL Monday nights.

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