MINNEAPOLIS — New Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman Datone Jones says the Green Bay Packers didn’t show serious interest in re-signing him until they learned he was meeting with the Vikings.
That was the crux of Jones’ explanation of his transition from Titletown to a city that hasn’t won a championship in the four major sports since 1991 (Minnesota Twins). He tells the Associated Press that as soon as he met with coach Mike Zimmer and rest of Minnesota’s staff, he was convinced he should sign with the Packers’ rival.
“I don’t think they really made a strong effort until I took a visit to Minnesota,” he said. “I think once I came to Minnesota, my mind was actually made up. Once I sat down with Coach Patterson, I think my mind was made up right then and there.
“Once I sat down with Coach Zimmer [and] the rest of the coaching staff, I think my mind was pretty much made up. I had some of the best years I could ever have in Green Bay, and I thank the Packers organization for those great years, but you know, I think it was just time for me to move on with my life and come somewhere new and get a new start.”
We may never know what offers Green Bay had on the table for Jones, but he signed with Minnesota on a one-year, $3.75 million deal after a productive “contract year” with the Packers. He logged 17 tackles, a sack, and two passes defensed in 2016. Much of that had to do with converting to more of a hybrid or “elephant” role that year, where he started a career-high four games.
But he’ll be reverting back to a familiar role once he arrives in Minnesota. Zimmer anticipates Jones will be moved to an interior lineman position in their 4-3 scheme, similar to what he ran in UCLA before being drafted in the first round by the Packers in 2013.
PHOENIX — Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson touched on a variety of topics during Monday’s NFL Owners Meetings, including a need for more bodies in the backfield.
“We need some more guys,” Thompson said in reference to adding running backs. “We’re a little short in a couple of areas. So from a personnel standpoint, we’ve got to get some more bodies, but we like the guys that we have. It’s just that we’d like to get some more.”
The departure of Eddie Lacy and the release of James Starks leaves just three running backs on roster, none of which have carried the workload a full season would entail. Ty Montgomery, who switched from wide receiver to running back last season, carried the ball 77 times for 457 yards and three touchdowns.
Reports from over the weekend indicated Thompson and the Packers were considering a meeting with former Vikings running back Adrian Peterson but that his asking price was too steep. Those reports also stated that Green Bay may address Peterson after the NFL Draft next month if their needs aren’t met. But when Thompson was asked about Peterson on Monday, he became tight-lipped.
“Let’s all together answer that question,” Thompson told a group of reporters. “We don’t talk about players that are not on our team. We never have, we never will. It doesn’t serve a purpose, I don’t think.”
Thompson and the Packers have roughly $24 million in cap space remaining for this offseason, and while he admitted it’s possible another player is added, that money might be saved for a future contract extension for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
APPLETON, Wis. — The Minnesota Vikings team airplane got stuck in the snow for several hours after landing at Appleton International Airport Friday evening.
The plan slid off the runway in the snowy conditions, getting stuck in the grass for roughly three hours as workers lifted them to safety ahead of their Saturday meeting with the Green Bay Packers. Difficulty removing the players and staff members came when crew members at the airport realized they didn’t have a staircase tall enough to reach the door of the stranded aircraft. Fire trucks had to be called to remove personnel from the situation.
The plane landed in Appleton at about 5:15 p.m. but the Vikings players and staff weren’t on their way to their hotel for the night until 10:15 p.m.
Many were willing to write off the Packers’ week one offensive struggles as a fluke, getting past an improving Jaguars team on the road. Upon closer inspection though, some of the things that plagued Green Bay’s offense in a disappointing 2015 season have carried over to 2016.
The return of receiver Jordy Nelson looked like it would be a cure-all for what ailed Green Bay in 2015, but the numbers for Aaron Rodgers have actually gotten worse. His completion percentage went from 60.7 to 57.1 and the yardage per game has dropped from 218.9 to 189.5. While not significant differences, an indication of Rodgers’ inconsistencies can be summed up by his passer rating. Based on a maximum score of 158.3, Rodgers has now gone 14 straight games without eclipsing the 100-point mark, dating to last season. His previous longest streak was four games (three times).
But not all of the offensive woes can be pointed at Rodgers. After management decided to release three-time Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton, the offensive line hasn’t been able to keep Rodgers upright. He’s been sacked six times this season, tied with the Browns for the fourth-most in the NFL. The inability to convert talent on the field into yardage and points is highlighted when comparing against other NFL teams. Green Bay ranks 28th in total yardage and 30th in total passing yardage.
Whether it’s a rift in the locker room or something happening in their personal lives, the Packers can’t seem to get clicking on offense. If they can’t figure out their issues, fans will look back on this era as a waste of great talent. During the Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers era, Green Bay has just two Super Bowl rings to show for it.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings announced they have released former Detroit Lions linebacker Travis Lewis and former Packers defensive tackle Bruce Gaston.
Both players were added during the offseason, but will miss the cut in preparation for training camp. Gaston joined the Vikings in late May after B.J. Dubose suffered a torn ACL. He recorded 12 tackles and one sack during the 2015, splitting time with the Packers and Bears.