Hey there everyone. Sorry for the delayed start. My apologies. Let's get going!
I'm going to take the under on this one. The Packers saw last season how effective the offense was when Rodgers dominates the game with his arm. I think the offense might trend more toward passing and drift away from McCarthy's preference of balance. So let's say the Packers carry the ball 23 times a game, which was their average last year. I see a mixture breaking down like this: 10-12 for Montgomery, 3-5 for Ripkowski, 1-2 for Cobb, 4-6 for everyone else (Jamaal Williams, etc.) So I don't think Montgomery gets to 13 or 14 per game on a consistent basis.
There will not be a final podcast with Bob. He wanted to let his final column for the Journal Sentinel be his last words on the beat, so to speak.
It will definitely be different without Bob on the beat next year. No question. But for now he and his wife are still in Green Bay, so we've been spending time together whenever there's time. He will be missed when he leaves Wisconsin later this year.
There's no question the Packers would welcome any contributions Janis can make as a wide receiver, but the bottom line is that right now he's a special teamer and that's about it. He might appear on the field for the occasional deep ball or reverse, but the Packers are not counting on him to play receiver. He would have to take reps from someone in order to get on the field. They won't just be given to him. So to answer your question, Janis must make the roster as a special teamer. This means coverage, returns, whatever coordinator Ron Zook dreams up. But unless he makes big strides as a receiver, which does not seem likely based on the past two years, special teams is his ticket to the roster. Similar to cornerback Demetri Goodson the last couple years.
Yes, Biegel had surgery. He is hoping to be ready for training camp at the end of July. Right now he's the fifth outside linebacker in a unit that usually employs six, so he has a chance for playing time right away. Plus, he is going to be valuable on special teams.
Montgomery's biceps look enormous. I was just talking about it yesterday with my colleagues Ryan Wood and Pete Dougherty. Montgomery has said many times that putting on muscle is very easy for him given his body composition, and at times he's had to fight to keep muscle OFF his frame because he can get too bulked up. But right now he looks really strong. Fackrell looked stronger as well. His build doesn't pop off the charts, but he's thicker for sure.
There has been little banter about Ryan and Martinez because the evolution of the Packers' defense is taking away their reps. With every snap Morgan Burnett and Josh Jones play at inside linebacker — something the Packers have practiced quite frequently so far — there is one fewer snap for the traditional inside backers. Martinez became a significant liability in coverage last season. Ryan is their best run stopper at ILB but lacks a bit of athleticism. Important training camp for both players.
I'm going to preface this answer by saying I don't have an intimate knowledge of what those three teams did or didn't do during the offseason. Now, that said, I think the answer to that question hinges on two things: the health of Clay Matthews/Nick Perry; the cornerback play. I have no doubt the offense will be potent this season. It should be at least as good as last year's version. But the defense, right now, is worse than it was a season ago. If Matthews and Perry don't stay healthy — and history says they will not — the Packers have almost no experience, and questionable talent, behind them at outside linebacker. As for the secondary, if Kevin King and Davon House come in and play well then things should be improved at the back end. If House plays like he did a year ago in Jacksonville and King is slow to develop, there are going to be problems.
I think there's a good chance the Packers keep three running backs, yes. Montgomery and Jamaal Williams are the best bets/locks to make the team. Then I would guess either Aaron Jones or Devante Mays has a chance as well. Ripkowski would give them a fourth option. I'm not sure if they would keep Joe Kerridge as a second fullback. The spot could come from WR, yes.
I'm not at liberty to disclose that information.
I think the job is Vogel's to lose at this point, as my colleague Ryan Wood wrote yesterday. If Vogel plays well from now until the start of the season, the job is his. If he struggles, he will probably be cut and the Packers will make a late move like they did last year with Jacob Schum. So it's up to Vogel more than anything else.
I would not be surprised if Waters makes the team. Last week he received a ton of praise from CBs coach Joe Whitt Jr. on the field. (I was able to hear it from the sideline.) And yesterday Whitt gushed about Whitt's development during his press conference with the media. King, House, Randall, Rollins, Gunter, Waters/Hawkins.
I think the Packers would be wise to use Nelson in the slot more this year as well. I think it really suits him because of his intelligence of where to sit down in zone coverage. The question of who fills the outside spot is a good one. Cobb is not really suited to play there consistently, though he's done it in the past. Allison is certainly an option. But I also think the Packers will use Lance Kendricks and Martellus Bennett as WR options, just as they did with Jared Cook last year. That was extremely effective at times.
I don't think the Packers will dump Cobb, but there might be times this season when his playing time is called into question. He can certainly be dynamic in the right setting, particularly runs after the catch, but his small frame takes a beating. He struggles to stay healthy and has struggled to get open the last two years. I agree with everything you said about him underperforming relative to his contract. He needs to be better.
Yes, the Nitro package has the same alignment as the nickel defense: two linemen, two outside backers, two inside backers, three corners, two safeties. The only difference is Morgan Burnett plays as one of the inside backers and Kentrell Brice takes his spot at safety. The two down linemen we've seen most often are Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark. That pairing will anchor the defense this year.
Reggie Gilbert, Brian Price, Lucas Patrick, Aaron Jones, Beau Sandland
The outline of contracts is a collaborative process. Russ Ball is involved, Ted Thompson is involved and probably Mark Murphy to an extent as well. But once the negotiations begin, it's 100% Russ Ball's show.
Biggest questions I see, in no particular order: 1) Were the struggles of Randall/Rollins purely injury-based? 2) Is Kyler Fackrell ready to contribute from week one? 3) How will Don Barclay perform as the backup center if Linsley gets hurt, which history says is likely at some point
We are brainstorming ideas about how to offset the loss of Bob. You can't replace someone like him, nor should you try, so we will try to do things in our own ways.
I think he will probably start as an outside linebacker. There is so much inexperience there with Elliott and Fackrell that he could contribute right away off the edge. But the Packers are firm believers in cross training, so I'm sure he'll get reps inside as well. I just think his first go around, so to speak, will be from the outside.
A better way to conceptualize this question is like this: Would Jayrone Elliott be back if the Packers had kept Julius Peppers and Datone Jones? I don't know the answer to that question. His special teams ability might be enough to stick around, but it's far from a given. So the departures of those two players are probably the biggest reason why he's still here. Bottom line is he needs to play better than he has the last two years. He needs to find consistency in the pass rush and stoutness against the run. Those are the two biggest knocks on him.
Who is this Noddy Nelson you speak of?
I think Peppers still had something to offer, yes. But I don't think the Packers were willing to pay what would have been required for his contributions. I would guess the decision to move on was less about Peppers not being able to play than it was a disinterest in paying what it was going to take to keep him here.
The ceiling for the defense rests on the cornerbacks more than anything. They need to play well for the Packers to have a chance. That's the long and short of this defense.
Well, I've emptied the queue of questions, so I guess this is goodbye. Thanks for chatting with me today. See you all later.