By Kevin in Minneapolis, MN
Like many, I was really geared up for the return of Mike Neal, expecting for him to come out like James Starks of 2010 and make an immediate impact and improve the team in a big way. It is not happening.
While it is far too early to write him off as another failed DE like Jamal Reynolds or Justin “Hot Tub” Harrell, I believe I am appropriately concerned that is what he may become. I understand injuries happen, missing playing time was unavoidable, and it does take some time to come back from an injury. But what I don’t understand, is why Neal is content just to get his snaps regardless of whether or not he actually makes any plays.
I was disturbed by this quote: “For me personally, just to be able to get in here and get in the mix – I don’t care about tackles, I don’t care about sacks. … Just to be able to play is enough. I’m doing that now. Maybe the sacks and tackles will come my way, but just for me to play right now is satisfying to me.”
While I’m happy that he’s no longer injured, I say don’t start him until he has a champion’s mentality. His “I’m happy just to be on the field” attitude is not enough for the Packers to succeed on the defensive line, and it’s not enough for me as a fan. I want to see a man on fire out there who is finally getting a chance to earn his paycheck. Instead I see a warm body who is just holding his own every play. C’mon, man, make an impact! Get hungry! And by the way, I am pretty sure sacks and tackles don’t just “come your way”. You need to go out there and fight for them.
In three consecutive games now Mike Neal has not done anything. No sacks, no tackles, nothing. And he’s had plenty of snaps.
In 2010 Neal had 3 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble in 2 games. We need more of that. What happened to that guy?
Honestly, for now I believe Jarious Wynn may be a better option as the starter – 3 sacks, 11 tackles in 2011.
I still have hope for Mike Neal to succeed but so far I’m very disappointed. He is not proving to be the beast he has been hyped up to be, not wielding a champion’s winning attitude, and most importantly, not getting the job done. I truly hope he starts getting comfortable out there and figures out how to make some plays. It’s past time for Neal to start producing.