OK everybody, let's get started. Yes, Lacy first injured the ankle in the Giants game. The point you raise is common to all sports, especially professional, and especially football. The culture is that the guys are getting paid to play, and availability is one most important abilities in a player. So there's is pressure on players, from the team and from themselves, to play through many types of injuries. Should they have sat him? Turns out, yes, though I suspect he was in a gray area. They should have been more cautious, but let's face it, Lacy isn't blameless here either. I have to think his weight issues contributed to get hurt in the first place. He had all offseason in a contract year to get in great shape. He lost a fair amount of weight early in the offseason but then by the start of the season had put it all back on. So I guess I'm not seeing him as a victim here.
He didn't trade up Raji at No. 9, that was his pick all along. But he did trade up for Matthews. You never know on these things, he traded up for Spriggs in the second round last year. So it's a possibility. But he also seems to be a believer -- and rightly so -- in the more picks is better philosophy because there is a large element of luck in the draft as well. So trying to get into the predicting business on what he's going to do would be a tough way to make a living. He has a lot of draft needs, too, so trading up means fewer shots at filling those needs.
Sure. Sounds like he was very unhappy when he didn't get a contract extension in the offseason, and then when Bakhtiari did, I'm sure he would have been more unhappy (the extension was done a few days after Sitton was cut). The Packers didn't lose any games because they didn't have Josh Sitton. They lost games when Rodgers didn't play well (with WR-RB injuries as a factor mixed in) and because their cornerbacks struggled and were hurt.
It almost surely will come from the group of Cook, Perry and Lang. You never know the order, and I'm not as sure they'll re-sign Lang as the other two. But I'd think two or three of them will be done in the handful of days before the start of free agency in March. Cook really made a difference -- the winning streak started in his second game back after missing six weeks because of a high ankle sprain. I don't think that's a coincidence, he really helped them. Perry had a really good season though he's not a great pass rusher. Lang is a tougher call because of the injury issues -- he ended the season with a broken hip and had hip surgery also -- but my best guess is they'll re-sign him.
I wouldn't bring back Peppers. He was a great signing, played excellent football for them, helped them a lot, good presence in the locker room, all that. But he showed decline last year, turned 37, and it's only going to go down from here. Could he come back and have a decent season? Yeah, but the odds of that are a lot lower than last year. You just have to move on in this game and your force yourself to get younger and more athletic. I guess I'd re-sign Lacy as long as it's to a cheap, one-year deal. But if I were the Packers I'd be weary of the weight issues. He had so much to play for last year but ended up putting the weight back on. I'd think they're done with Starks because of the concussion and age, and Michael is just to unreliable on the field. So yeah, they probably should re-sign Lacy. But I wouldn't do more than a one-year deal if I were them.
Can't disagree with you. Thompson is really set in his philosophy on this. I do wonder whether this past season will be enough to convince him to try for some more bargain-type or short-term signings. It worked great with Cook. He also signed McCray for cheap. That didn't work but only cost a bonus (I think $50,000, though maybe it was a little more). So what, I say. Just the cost of doing business to get a good look at a guy you kind of liked. We'll see if he changes up and gets a little more aggressive in adding guys. I, like you, think he should.
Yeah, the Patriots comparison only holds up so far, though you probably could argue the Packers No. 2 behind the Patriots if you're looking at the last 10 years overall. Even with only one SB win in the last 11 years, the Patriots have advanced so deep into the playoffs so often, they clearly are in a class by themselves. I get what he's saying about letting go a GM you know to be good, you easily could end up doing worse. But Lombardi said there are two places to finish, first and last. I think the Packers should have a realistic goal of winning three SBs during Rodgers' career.
You just never know what Thompson is going to do. He has a lot of needs, which suggests he'll want as many picks as possible. His history is far more to trade back for extra picks than up for a targeted player. But he has moved up at times, like last year for Spriggs. My default is always to guess he'll sit and use his own picks, but you never know. If he really likes a guy, especially at a position of need, he very well might make the move up.
My sense is that, at least on the position you bring up, cornerback, that Joe Whitt is a really good coach and develops players well. He developed Shields (undrafted), Tramon Williams (undrafted), that's a pretty good resume in and of itself. They got a lot out of Gunter this year considering his physical limitations. From what I can tell Whitt is tough on guys. I'm really interested to see how Randall does next season. I don't have a great feel for how much of his struggles were the incessant injuries, and how much was him (like the lax lining up, as you say, and reluctance at times to tackle, and the waning confidence).
The NFL is set up to be mostly draft and develop, though you're right that Thompson is on the far end of the draft and develop spectrum. Pittsburgh isn't too far from him, and it wins consistently too. I agree that he should use free agency more than he does, not necessarily for the big-ticket guys in the first few days of free agency. That's where teams often make mistakes. But after that, you can add some guys with upside or for depth or whatever, almost like a draft before the draft. That's how NE seems to do it.
I know that's how you and many others view what he said, and maybe you're right. I get the sense that he thinks if they keep knocking at the door like this, things are going to go their way a couple years for SBs, and if he changes course he could end up getting a worse GM and missing that chance. That was my interpretation. But you are far from alone in perceiving that undertone.
Lots of questions on this topic, and like I said, I basically agree. Now, you can't build a team through free agency, it just rarely works and often is counterproductive. But yeah, a targeted signing here and there for a more expensive guy, and some more bargain-oriented or short-term signings to augment the roster, those can be done without blowing up the cap. I'll have a blog post later today on Murphy addressing that subject. The gist was, Thompson is his GM, and he's not going to tell Thompson how to do his job. I don't doubt that some of Thompson's subordinates try to get him to be more active. Maybe they'll have more sway on him this offseason.
Look, I'm not saying it's highly likely or easy, but yeah, a team can get much, much better with one good draft. Look at Atlanta. The Falcons drafted that safety Neal and those two ILBs, plus played another rookie, undrafted CB Poole, in the slot. And by season's end those guys had improved a lot, and their defense is better now than it was last year (or in September), and they're playing in the SB. Dallas hit really big on two picks (Elliott and Prescott), and it changed the outlook of that franchise. Yeah, it helps a lot to have the No. 4 pick overall. But it can be done. So I'd never just dismiss the possibility, even if the exception and not the rule to have a draft like that. And as we've talked about earlier in this chat, maybe Thompson signs a couple free agents who help. I know, that's not his history, so you're right to be skeptical, but that doesn't mean he won't. We'll just have to see how it plays out.
I thought they moved him around a fair amount -- he switched sides some, and occasionally lined up inside, like in the dime they'd sometimes stand up the two outside rushers over the guards, and have the two inside guys line up over the tackles. I'm of the opinion they should move him inside like they did in the second half of '14 and all of '15, and use a high draft pick or two at OLB. At his current age and state, he seems to impact the game more inside, and he'd help improve the athleticism at that position, which has been a problem. Don't know if they agree.
He's a talented guy, the Rams have one in Trumaine Johnson, and there's A.J. Bouye from Houston, sounds like he had a really good year. Not sure if any of them will end up getting franchised or re-signed before free agency starts. I have to think it's something Thompson has to seriously consider. It's such a glaring need. But handicapping it, I don't know. His history says no way on guys like that who could go in the first couple days if they're on the market.
Kind of, though it's up to each to adapt. Capers needs to make sure his system is simple enough for today's NFL, where rosters are made up of basically a handful of expensive core veterans, and the rest of the team is players on their first contract. And it's up to Thompson to find players who can fit into what Capers does.
Impossible to say. But name a GM you can't say that about? Thompson drafted Rodgers -- it was a given he would, and I'd bet the farm that if Mike Sherman had still been GM he wouldn't have, he'd have gone for immediate help at another position. What was Belichick before Brady came along? That's the league, if you have a QB you win, and if you don't you get fired.
Don't know whether it's a statistical anomaly or if there's something about Pac-12 players he likes. Their West Coast scout is Sam Seale, I've asked around and haven't gotten the sense he's the driving force, I think they were Ted's picks, he liked the guys.
Yeah, I think it would be a mistake to use a head hunter to find a GM. It's part of the president's job to always be on the lookout for the next GM and to always have a short list. I don't know if a head hunter is part of the plan, he played his cards close to the vest on that entire subject.
OK, this is going to have to be it, other duties to attend to. But thanks for all the great questions, wish we had time to get to more. Look, I don't have a definitive answer for this, but my read is that it's been more personnel than coaching. They just haven't had the difference makers. Thompson hit big when he signed Woodson and drafted Collins and then Matthews (and Raji was excellent in '10). Woodson and Collins are gone, and Matthews has been hurt a lot the last few years. The only defensive pick Thompson has hit big on since then Daniels. Peppers helped a fair amount but even he wasn't what he'd been with Carolina and Chicago. So it looks to me like they need Thompson to hit big on a pick (or signing) two. Thanks again everybody, wish I had more time, so many questions left unanswered, but we can try again next week. Take care everybody.