Packer Update

Making The Case For Quinn

Johnson's size and strength makes him a good blocker

With so much young talent at tight end and wide receiver, it’s easy to project reserve fullback Quinn Johnson as a roster casualty when the Packers make their final cuts on Saturday afternoon. In fact, I did just that when I first started working on my 53-man roster over the weekend. But the more I thought about it, the more I came to the realization that there just might be a place for the former Louisiana State standout in Green Bay.

People a lot smarter than me believe that in today’s NFL you pass to score points and you run to win games. I agree with that – especially when it pertains to the Packers. With arguably the best quarterback and the most talented group of receivers in the entire league, it would make little sense for coach and play caller Mike McCarthy to essentially take the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ hands 50% of the time. Not only is the reigning Super Bowl MVP an incredibly talented passer, but unlike the person who preceded him at the position and shall remain nameless, he can almost always be counted on to make intelligent decisions with the ball.

OK, so back to the theory that you pass to score points and you run to win games and how exactly it relates to Johnson’s immediate future with the Packers. I fully expect the offense to have a run/pass ratio of about 35/65 in the first three quarters of most games this season. There will, of course, be exceptions based on the opponent and the weather conditions, but for the most part, Rodgers will be throwing and then throwing some more. I also fully expect the Packers to be ahead in most games heading into the final 15 minutes. And that’s when I expect McCarthy to finally start pounding the rock on a consistent basis. That’s also when a player like Johnson would be incredibly valuable to have around.

Johnson may have the grace of an elephant and the hands of Roberto Duran, but the guy can open holes. He’s naturally thick and powerfully built, he has explosive power to roll his hips and generate movement as a lead blocker and he plays physically and will finish blocks and try to bury defenders into the ground. That’s exactly the type of fullback the Packers need when they’re nursing a lead with 12 minutes left in the game. It’s also exactly the type of fullback John Kuhn has never been and will never be.

Kuhn, who ran for over 4,000 yards as a halfback at Shippensburg, is no better than an average blocker. He can get the job done, but that skill isn’t what got him a three-year contract worth over $7 million a few weeks ago. His value is his versatility. The 28-year-old can run a little, block a little, catch a little and play special teams a little. That’s what makes him so valuable. Conversely, Johnson can’t run, catch or play special teams particularly well, but he can block like hell. And that’s the only thing the Packers will need their fullback to do when the score is 24-14 and the game moves into the final quarter.

Does this mean Johnson is a lock to make the final roster? No. McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson believe in keeping the best 53 and it’s debatable whether the 24-year-old fits that criteria. There are younger players who might be able to contribute more in the future, but would a fifth tight end or a sixth wide receiver or a 10th offensive lineman give the Packers a better chance to win right now? That’ll be the dilemma facing McCarthy and Thompson five days from now. Fortunately, I no longer have such a dilemma. Johnson will be part of my final roster when I post it on Friday night. I think.

Tags: ,

11 Comments to "Making The Case For Quinn"

  1. Nerdmann says:

    Johnson can catch better than people think. He’s developed that ability, imo.
    Don’t you think a guy like Crabtree could take the FB job as far as lead blocking in crunch time?

  2. Hands says:

    If you don’t keep Johnson, probably means that Crabtree makes it bcause of his H-Back blocking ability. I just don’t see how Johnson makes it because of the lack of special team ability.

  3. Matt says:

    Why would we keep Johnson when we have B.J. Raji to play fullback?

  4. Grave Digger says:

    The Packers also value versatility and by your own admission, Johnson offers little in the way of versatility. Yes he’s a bowling ball that almost always clears out defenders, but is 1 positive trait enough to warrant a spot?

    • wery121 says:

      I’m torn on this one. I agree, he’s a 1 trick pony, but short yardage has been an infuriating issue for years. I don’t see that changing when you look at the defensive fronts in our division. We did a ton of QB sneaks last year because we knew we couldn’t run it, and we nearly got ARod killed a couple times. That has to stop. So the question is does his 1 trait warrant a roster spot over a 5th TE (probably Crabtree)? And what are the chances Taylor has shown enough as a blocker/special teamer to enable us to let go of Crabtree? Of the two (Johnson/Crabtree) I’d say Crabtree is more replaceable by players currently on the roster and what Johnson’s skill set lacks versatility, it makes up for in diversity.

  5. Archie says:

    Quinn Johnson is exactly what Ted thought it would be when he drafted him. Therefore, I don’t see Ted cutting him. However, I also expect Ted to keep 5 TEs and 3 HBs. IF he keeps 3 QBs, 5 WRs and 9 OL, that is 27. Add 3 for ST and that is 30, leaving only 23 for defense. That would be DL (6), LB (8) and DB (9). If they want 10 DBs, that means 7 LBs. I think the depth on offense is higher value than on defense, so 27 and 23 isn’t out of the question but more likely it will be 26 and 24. Would they go with 8 OL?

  6. dHoward says:

    In my opinion, FB is the easiest position in the NFL to replace. Some teams don’t even carry one anymore and there just always seems to be more then one quality FB available during the season if teams have an injury. That being said, the Packers use their FB’s a bit more then most teams and considering Kuhn can also be penciled in at RB if needed they might view keeping Johnson as their only pure FB on the roster. I think he sticks unless they are just super stoked about one of the young WR’s or OLB’s. IMO, I don’t they are super stoked about their young WR’s or OLB’s. Nice players but not better or more valuable then Johnson and a few of them will stick on the practice squad.

  7. Archie says:

    SEA loses TE John Carlson to season ending injury and the PATS are looking for WRs. Perhaps TT could trade Quarless to SEA and a WR to draft pick rich NE. It seems as though PATS need a smart WR with deep spped which doesn’t describe Pack WRs except for GJ who is off limits.

    I’m still in the camp that Ted keeps QJ. What that means at TE, OL, WR, LB and DB is hard to figure.

    It seems Lee has responded to the competition in the latter half of camp and has stayed healthy for the first time ever. It will be a tough decision between he and Gordy. Ditto at S where Levine and Underwood are fighting for the 4th spot. Ted could elect to let Bush fill the 4th S spot and dime back, to save a roster spot. Levine has another year of eligibility on p-squad. The kid looks like a player to me.

    Keeping Zombo on 53 super complicates LB numbers, especially given the quality depth at other positions. I’m thinking they may cut 51 at ILB and keep only 3 so they can keep an extra guy at OLB until Zombo makes it back. Odds are 51 would keep on the p-squad till then.

    At DB, I’m thinking 9, including 5 CB and 3 S plus CB/S Bush. Say goodbye to Underwood, assuming he doesn’t go off vs KC. Lee/Gordy in a battle to the death. Again, I think Gordy has another year on the p-squad so maybe they gamble on him.

    With 23 on defense, that leaves 27 spots for offense. OL = 8 or 9. QB = 2 or 3. TE = 4 or 5. WR = 5 or 6. HB = 3. FB = 1 or 2. Using the high estimates = 28 = 1 too many.

    Sooo, as we have all been surmising, who is that one? QJ? Crabtree? Harrell? Keep only one interior OL back-up (EDS)? (That’s my vote.) West & Gurley?

    Keeping only 8 OL seems like a necessity i.e., nobody else is good enough to protect at the expense of good players at other positions.

    I’m also thinking somebody on everybody’s 53 leaves by trade.

    Would it shock me to see Ted keep 7 WRs? No. But 7 WRs, 5 TEs and 2 FBs would be wild.

    I know MM loves to talk up Harrell but I really don’t think anybody would claim him off our p-squad.

    So I guess I’m on record as saying keep 2 QBs and 8 OL, trade one guy, and keep the rest to get to 27 on offense.

  8. Michael Rodney says:

    Lots of very interesting thoughts, but there’s no way they’ll release 51 (D.J. Smith). He’s had a very good summer. In fact, he’s probably been the second most impressive rookie behind Taylor.

  9. Archie says:

    re: DJ Smith (51) – yes, 51 has been solid and a pleasant surprise for a D6 He diagnoses well and is a very good tackler vs the run (big upgrade over Hawk in both departments). Sorta plays the way Abdul Hodge was supposed to. How does he fare vs pass and blitzing? Not sure. Also, these are only practice games. Will he look as good when the speed and ferocity factors revved up to full throttle? Again, not sure. You may be right that he would never clear waivers. I like him, Taylor, Francois, and Do’soto, but I like Cobb, House and Green even more. And I want to keep QJ and Crabtree. Football is blocking and tackling (St. Vincent) and these two guys are great blockers. We will already feel the loss of BJ as a blitz pick-up. To add Crabtree and QJ to that list would be criminal :).

    There’s also a lot of guys I’d like to see clear waivers and play for Packers’ P-squad e.g., Lattimore, Levine, Gordy, Saine, etc.

    Saturday is coming fast. Looking forward to tomorrow night’s game as always.

  10. Yoop says:

    Smith will make the team as the 3rd ILB, he right now is better then any of the other back up ILB’s.
    I think we will see a player to be named later here at ILB someone cut in the final cuts brought in.
    Crabtree gets cut, Taylor can block as well and has more upside as they say as receiver and on special teams.
    I don’t see them keeping two FB’s, as little as they are used and how much they use a TE lined up behind the Oline one of the 4 TE’s they keep can take that job as back up FB. Williams Played some full back in college so it is a good fit.
    I don’t see them keeping more than 5 WR’s, a lot of hype is out there about West and Gurley but neither is a have to keep, both can go on the practice squad so one of them should clear waivers.
    At DB, IMO Levine was the best #4 Safety. I think he can be better then Peprah.
    CB Lee has stepped it up after a BAD start, Bush is the same Bush he cannot cover plain and simple. This is his last year, special teams play or not.
    House is too talented and Gordy is better then Ross and Underwood.
    So Woodson, Williams, Shields, House, Gordy and Lee make up the 6 CB’s they usually keep.

    I think we will see them keep extra Dlinemen this year. Even with them usually only keeping 6 this year they keep 7.
    And hold a extra OLB with Zombo being hurt possibly keeping only 3 ILB’s.

    Oline will keep 10 instead of nine. But that will depend on Campbell, they really like him but the injury set him back this year.
    Clifton, Lang, Wells, Sitton, Bulaga, Newhouse, McDonald, Sherrod, Schlauderaff will be the nine and possibly Campbell.

    OLB’s Matthews, So’oto, Walden, Zombo and Jones or Lattimore will be kept.

    I see, Neal, Green, Raji, Wynn, Willson, Guy and Pickett as the 7 Dlinemen.

    One spot has to go to Harrell, he cannot go back to the Practice squad, he was on the 53 man roster last year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>