Hey Packers fans, welcome to our weekly live chat. For a team home for the playoffs, lots going on with the Packers right now. Their first round of interviews concluded over the weekend. Let's get to your questions.
In theory, that's precisely what Mark Murphy and Brian Gutekunst are determining right now. One source said the pair are on "lockdown" at the moment. They cast a huge net in their initial interview round. The list of known candidates reaches to almost a dozen. That means they're going to need to whittle that list -- and quickly. I'd suspect we'll start finding out about any second interviews soon, and that will be in effect the short list. Josh McDaniels and Adams Gase are two names to watch, as our Tom Silverstein explained today. I've also heard the Packers have been particularly high on Gase going into the initial round of interviews, but I haven't heard how his chat with Mark Murphy and Brian Gutekunst went. Will be interesting to see who they decide to bring into Green Bay.
Oh, I'm sure Russ Ball is involved at some level. He's in the loop. But Brian Gutekunst, as acting general manager, is in charge of football personnel. Gutekunst also has an extensive history scouting NFL talent. That goes for coaches as well as players. So his voice is of utmost importance as Murphy decides who to hire.
Right off the bat, Josh McDaniels and Adam Gase were play callers as head coach. So I'd suspect both would retain those duties. Frankly, many coaches call their own plays, especially on the offensive side. Pete Carmichael calls plays in New Orleans, not Dan Campbell. Matt LaFleur calls plays. On defense, Brian Flores calls plays. So that would probably be the norm.
I think it's safe to assume Cole Madison does not factor into the Packers' long-term plans after being away from the team his entire rookie season, but that's yet to be confirmed. As a fifth-round pick, the Packers don't have much invested in him, in terms of football assets. So it would be easy to move on.
Clay Matthews is 32, turns 33 in May. It's likely his days as a double-digit sacker are over. It's certainly logical that he needs to play fewer snaps than he has the past couple years. He was over 70 percent this past season, most of which were as an edge rusher. Contrary to your observation, his speed and quickness have deteriorated, as will happen with age. In Matthews case, his long history of injuries can accelerate the aging process. That said, he's a good player. Not the dominant force he once was, but still could be one of the Packers better defenders in the right role. It wouldn't surprise me if he's back next season as a hybrid defender, someone who can drop down the line of scrimmage at times but also plays a lot off the ball. I haven't inquired much on what his market might be, but it certainly won't be anything like the $10 million-plus AYP of his last deal. So that should help a return, if the Packers want to go that route. It's also entirely possible they just want to move on. In my conversations with Matthews late in the season, he seemed to genuinely not know what his future will be.
I mean, they didn't interview him. So there you go.
Good question. It depends on the landscape at that time, I suppose. But trust is a major concern with McDaniels, who ditched the Colts after agreeing to become their head coach last season. So you can't rule anything out.
Was just thinking this too, Bill. They're certainly in the market for more dynamic talent, no matter what position that comes. That said, I think this past weekend of wild-card games showed defense remains awfully important, and why the Packers continue to pump their draft assets into that side of the ball. So, ideally, they'd find a dynamic talent on defense, specifically edge rusher. But if there's a dynamic safety, or even a dynamic off-ball linebacker or corner, that can't be ruled out. Same as if there's a dynamic offensive tackle or tight end. I do think the Packers have pieces on the offense to be better than they were this past season. Not only could Aaron Rodgers play better with two healthy knees, but they have an All-Pro left tackle, a pair of talented running backs, and one of the best receivers in the NFL. They also have a young group of receivers that should only get better. Brian Gutekunst seemed to agree that the Packers offense has talent, saying on the day McCarthy's firing was announced that the group didn't performance up to expectations. If that's any indication, I'd think the Packers prefer adding defensive talent this spring.
I saw that clip too, and I thought it was very interesting. The reason it caught my interest is it reminded me of this Aaron Rodgers quote from his final in-season interview late in December: "We haven’t, really since J-Mike – and I’ve said this before – we haven’t had an offense that gave the tight ends a ton to do. We’ve always been scheming up plays for Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings and Randall Cobb and Davante. So I think that’s something we need to look at this offseason, how we can utilize the talent we have at the tight end position, and give them more opportunities to be that No. 1 read on certain plays so we can see what we’ve got." Seems to be saying the same thing, no?
To an extent, yes. Mike McCarthy really didn't know Mike Pettine at all before interviewing him for the Packers defensive coordinator spot last offseason. But, comparatively, it helps to have contacts as opposed to not having them. By nature, people prefer to work with and for people they know. So it's an advantage, just not a deal breaker.
What's kind of fascinating about the Packers guard situation is it's the bed they've made. A few years ago, they had the best guard tandem in the league with Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang. Now, injuries and age have significantly limited both players, so it's unfair to say the Packers should have reached their contract demands. But they haven't been able to replace those holes with the same caliber of guards either. So it would not surprise me if there's a focus on that position this offseason.
Either. Depends on what they do the next couple weeks. As the NFC's top overall seed, the odds are 30s. But I don't have a crystal ball, unfortunately. Bottom line, there isn't a big difference between the two.
No, Mark Murphy has made very clear he's making this hire, which places him atop the Packers football operation. That's the only way Brian Gutekunst could have more power, is being atop the football operation. So I view Gutekunst more as Murphy's right-hand man in this process, instead of a tryout to move up a notch.
There's always a lot of head-coaching turnover, but I have been surprised at the lack of GM turnover this year. It does strike me as unusually light in that area. Could still be more changes, for sure. But not at the moment.
I honestly thought it was a TD, but many people disagreed. It was obviously very close. So hard to see the call on the field being overturned in any event, and it wasn't.
Yeah, agreed. That's what I said.
Brian Gutekunst has said he wants to be involved in everything, because being involved and making a move are two different things. So I'm sure he's at least thought about Antonio Brown. Bottom line, the Packers have a really promising young group of receivers. Guys like Marquez Valdes-Scantling and EQ St. Brown could be really good with a full offseason, and Geronimo Allison was primed for a big year if they stayed healthy. The Packers could use help in the slot, and Brown doesn't line up much in the slot, though I'm sure he could play anywhere. Ultimately, the receiver position is one the Packers probably want to grow organically, and provide space to all that, the young guys need snaps.
Not really. Everyone should want the Cleveland job. It's the best job on the market. If anything, the difficulty with trusting Josh McDaniels should eliminate him from the Packers job, but it certainly hasn't.
I doubt Gase is interested in anything but a head coaching job at the moment. It's possible some of the other interviews were conducted with that in mind, at least in part, but these are coaches wanting a head-coaching job. So I find it very unlikely.
Good question, and it's hard to answer because there's a lot of possibilities. If it is a bad hire, we probably won't know for two years at the earliest, maybe three. Remember, the Packers are an organization known for valuing patience, so they're going to give this hire every possible chance to succeed. That said, if it becomes clear, I could see two possible outcomes. The first, of course, is to fire Mark Murphy. The second is for Murphy to reorganize the internal structure, so that he's again head of the business side, and places the GM as head of football. That would not surprise me at all, as Murphy has been very good for the Packers business operations, and this really isn't Gutekunst's hire.
Really hard to say without knowing the Packers' schedule, specifically whether Murphy and Gutekunst want to have second interviews with candidates. If they do, I don't see a hire being made this week. Maybe the weekend at the very earliest, and more likely next week. But it's also possible one of their preferred candidates blew them away in the interview, to the extent they want just get their guy. That's the only real case I can see for the hire being made this week.
I don't disagree, John. I think there's a reason McDaniels hasn't lined up the interviews this month. His own agent dumped him after McDaniels backed out of the Colts agreement. The worst part of it wasn't for the Colts, though that was obviously highly embarrassing. The worst part was McDaniels left assistant coaches hanging. It would seem hard to hire the best coaching staff possible when there's a lack of trust.