Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Thursday, Feb. 16 transcript

  • Pete, loved your Shields and Starks article. As you look at young Packers today who have not played much, do you have any that you think will be difference makers? Thanks, Jim
  • The guys who first come to mind are Allison and Clark and maybe Brice. They all played some last year but weren't close to full time.
  • Free agency. The draft. It seems way to early to talk about the "what ifs" when the landscape changes everyday. I am interested in what the coaching staff can do to get players like Rollins, Randall, Davis, Spriggs etc. to make a leap in order to contribute next season. What are thoughts on how the Packers can improve internally?
  • I'm sure the plan is similar to every year. Get them in the offseason program, work on strength and explosiveness with the strength and conditioning staff, and on techniques and studying assignments with their position coaches. With guys like Spriggs and Davis the strength training will be really big. Randall and Rollins more getting healthy and working on techniques and skills. Side note for the previous question, Davis hardly played at all last season but could be a factor this year, he has a lot of speed and showed some skill in the little time he played last year.
  • Pete
    Any chance Raji returns?
    Thanx
  • Haven't heard anything about him, which suggests he's not coming back this year, I'd think he'd have had to make the commitment by now.
  • Given the Packers shortcomings at defense, do you think a splashy move up in the draft to get Myles Garrett could be worth a gamble to improve the pass rush and help the secondary? It will cost but a calculated risk is needed NOW! Not entirely certain their are many FA options for a #1 corner out there. Re-sign Nick Perry and get more punch in that front seven. Hope that Rollins and Randall can turn it around. Thoughts?
  • My guess is the cost to move from 29 to No. 1 or 2 would be prohibitive. Several first-round and second-round picks. Unless they think this guy is the next Lawrence Taylor, really hard to see that happening. You're right they need help now. Free agency is difficult to find real difference makers, usually the cost financially is really high and if the guy doesn't pan out like you thought then it hurts the cap. Maybe they'll try to sign a CB or two (and/or pass rusher) they think is a diamond in the rough, and then hope to find someone the quality of Matthews in the first round, or a Nick Collins-type talent in the second. Tough to do but hardly impossible.
  • Hey Pete thanks for the time. When I put Mike McCarthy's NFC title post game comments of: I'm so proud of this team, We ran into a buzzsaw, etc. alongside Bill Belichick's post SB victory: We are 5 weeks behind everyone else for next season. No days off. Etc...it leaves a very sour taste in my mouth about the seemingly contentedness McCarthy has after getting humiliated and outcoached in another wasted season.

    Does Mike McCarthy have IT? Do players love him and want to make him proud? What is your feeling of how the respected veterans feel about him as a leader of men?
  • Really big question. McCarthy seems to be a pretty good coach from what I can tell. The best? No. That's clearly Belichick. Who's next? I might  have said Ariens, but then look what happened to the Cardinals last season. I'm not sure anybody stands out in that next group of coaches behind Belichick. Is Quinn there? Don't know that you can say that after the Super Bowl meltdown. Maybe Pete Carroll, but look what happened to his team after Earl Thomas went down. Players seem to respond pretty well to McCarthy, things didn't come apart at 4-6 and coming off two blowout losses. That says a lot. I seriously doubt Belichick's players love him. I'm guessing fear of losing their jobs is a big motivator there. The Packers are hardly a country club but maybe they could use even a little more of that, though guys were in and out of the lineup at CB last year when that position struggled and it didn't seem to make much difference. Maybe they could use some more bottom-of-the-roster turnover during the season just keep everyone on his toes.
  • Good afternoon Pete - If it's safe to assume that TJ will get more money than Sitton, does it make sense to move Bulaga inside and get Spriggs career started at Right Tackle? Also, do you think Cook gets a franchise tag and a one year deal?
  • I'm not sure what kind of money Lang will get. He's a really good player, but he's also coming off hip surgery and a broken foot. Not sure when he'll be able to start doing football stuff this offseason, very well might not be for several months or more. He's not old (29) but has a lot of miles on him. So I don't know if his contract is going to be any better than Sitton's. Still, it's definitely up in the air whether he'll be back. I wondered the same thing with Bulaga, and that's definitely one possibility. The one argument against that is that Bulaga is playing so well at right tackle, it might be a mistake to move him out of there. That might mean moving Murphy to guard or drafting a guy in the middle rounds to possibility start at guard if they don't re-sign Lang. They'll have either option, I'm sure they want to get Spriggs on the field after trading up in the second round to get him. But they might be reluctant to move Bulaga. I don't see any way Cook gets the franchise tag. I'm not sure of the number, but I'd have to think it's around $8 million. That's too much for him even though he's an important player. I do have to think he's the highest priority re-sign of the offseason (maybe along with Perry).
  • What percentage chance do you put on Ted rolling with Rollins and Randall and NOT making a big move to shore up the secondary?

    Assuming he defies what we all perceive as logic and does nothing as usual, what % chance would you say he looks like a genius when both players step up huge?

    I say 70% and 20% respectively.
  • Depends what you mean by making a big move. If you meany signing someone like Bouye, I'd say the chances are pretty small. If you mean drafting a corner in the first or second round, I'd say the odds of that are really high. I'll be surprised/shocked if he doesn't do that. I also could see him signing a free agent or two for depth at CB, not big money, but a guy or two who he thinks might have a little something and could compete for, say, the No. 3 cornerback job.
  • Packers have lost 3 stud difference maker players in recent years to career ending injuries,collins,finley,and shields. Can you think of another team that has been so impacted?
  • I'd have to think about that for a while. I'm sure plenty of teams have lost at least one, but three, that might be a short list. Detroit lost Calvin Johnson, though he didn't retire. The Vikings lost Peterson last year and now it's looks like he might not be back because of contract/age. Three is a lot, though.
  • Not to be a pessimist, but I see lots of holes in the dike for 2017 and and not enough fingers to plug them. Pack needs: At least 1, maybe 2, CBs in a BAD secondary, at least 1 dynamic ILB, another OLB who can press the QB, another DL to take the place of Peppers, a RB with some speed, a G to replace the departing TJ Lang and perhaps another WR. Knowing Ted (I never pay free agents) Thompson, I just don't see this coming from one draft. Therefore, 2017 looks like a year of decline to me. Thoughts?
  • They do have a lot of needs. Now, if they move Matthews to ILB, that goes a long way towards addressing that issue, though of course it heightens the need at OLB. The DL I see as less of a need than you do, I'd put that farther down the list. I wonder, for instance, if Perry could convert to an inside rusher, especially if Fackrell improves and needs to get on the field more. Definitely need at minimum one CB, and you're right, two wouldn't be outlandish. I'd think they'd want to draft an RB in the middle rounds even if they re-sign Lacy. And if Lang leaves, yeah, then a guard in the mid rounds too. I don't mean to sound crazy here, but maybe Thompson will sign a couple free agents for depth at a position or two. You're also right that filling all those holes in one draft is asking a lot -- it's almost impossible to hit on that many picks in one draft. But, more than filling all those holes, I'd argue that he needs to hit big on a pick, and when I say big I man like Matthews/Collins type talent. A player that good, especially if it's like Matthews and makes an impact immediately, can make a huge difference and make everyone else better. Hard to find guys like that, but surely not impossible.
  • yo ho Petey Boy, a couple of mock drafts have GB picking a RB in the 1st round. Given recent trends in the NFL re: that position, I can't see it. In fact, I believe GB needs to go defense 1st and 2nd round (CB, OLB). What are your thoughts ?
  • Yeah, agreed, don't see any way they're taking an RB in the first round, just doesn't make any sense. I'd think in a perfect world you're right, CB and OLB in the first two rounds. Don't know if it will turn out that way, but those are their greatest needs, at least in my mind, and I don't think that's a controversial view.
  • All the talk about signing Lacy to an incentive laced contract for his weight made me wonder--when did contracts with incentives first start popping up in the NFL. I can't imagine the players in the 60's/70's having contracts with incentives. Or am I wrong in my thinking?
  • Good question and I don't know the answer. I started covering the league in '93 and can't remember for sure if there were incentives then, but I think there were. I think Pro Bowl incentives have been around for a while. If I had to guess, I'd guess they go back to the '80s.
  • Hi Pete--assuming TT dips his toes into free agency, which is a BIG assumption, would you guess it more likely he go for 2-3 budget/affordable free agents, or spend a larger chunk of money on an elite corner, of which there are few if any. Your thought?
  • I'd guess the latter, that he'd go for the budget guys for depth. But this is all guesswork, you never know. His history says no way on signing one of the expensive guys in the first few days. Could he shock us? I suppose so, but hard to see him changing at this point. I thought last year he might go after a guy like Trevathon, even heard some grapevine things before free agency that they had interest in him, then after Trevathan signed he said he never heard from the Packers. I really think he needs to expand his player-procurement universe, though, even if it means signing a bunch of fairly inexpensive guys and treating it like a draft -- if they're not good enough, cut them, just the cost of doing business.
  • No way is Clay Matthews worth $15 million next year. Is it time to tell him to restructure and if he doesn't, cut him? Same thing with Cobb. He is going to count $12 million against the cap next year and is the 7th highest paid receiver in the NFL. Cut both of them to increase our cap and spend the money on some players who can immediately contribute?
  • Matthews' cap number is $15 million, but they're paying him $11.1 million (the other $4M is prorated bonus he was paid a few years ago), so that's how I'd look at, $11M. That's a lot, but if they asked him for a pay cut, he could say no, and then you're right, they'd either have to live with it or cut him. I get your point but I'd be wary of cutting him, I don't think they don't have enough on defense to that. He did have a significant injury (shoulder) that affected his play, so there's a pretty good chance he'll be a better player this year, though we don't know for sure because he's now passed 30 and has had his share of injuries in his career. His best position is OLB, but in my opinion the position he best helps this team is ILB. So I'd move inside unless they draft an ILB high. I agree on Cobb, I think he's making either $9M or $9.5M, and I don't think he'd have as much value on the open market as Matthews. I think you'd have a decent chance of getting him to cut that in half with the chance to make back some or all of it in escalating incentives.
  • First things first Pete, denounce Ted Thompson !!
  • He's got his shortcomings but overall I think he's a pretty good GM. His early drafts here were outstanding. As I said earlier, he does need to find ways to augment the roster aside from the draft, and he needs to hit big on a pick again, hasn't done that for a while.
  • Hi Pete,

    Good article earlier today on Shields and Starks! I'm sure you have good rapport with other sportswriters, but was curious on what you think they say AND write at times...Bill Barnwell on ESPN wrote the other day the "5 Moves Green Bay Needs to do in the Off Season" which included re-signing Julius Peppers IF he's not retiring and NOT re-signing Nick Perry, but he also said add a starting running back and give serious thought to signing Adrian Peterson! Guess everyone's entitled to their opinion...Thank you.
  • I didn't see that story. I just looked up his bio, and it looks like he writes about all the major sports. That's really tough to do, it's hard enough being expert on one team and one league, let alone several leagues. So yeah, I'd say he's wrong on Peppers and Perry, and RB isn't a high priority if Lacy re-signs (though they still need to draft an RB if you ask me). Signing Peterson, that probably would be too expensive, though it's kind of an interesting idea. That could make for an unstoppable offense if he still has much left in the tank. Risky, though, because he had the ACL and now is coming off another knee injury. Definitely not a Thompson move. Wonder if that's something Ron Wolf would try to do?
  • It sure would be nice if ESPN mock drafts are correct and the Packers draft Christian McCaffrey. The pressure would be off the defense a little bit more?
  • That would take pressure off the defense, but I don't think enough to justify taking him in the first round. He's a similar but better version of Montgomery, so there'd be redundancy there. That would be good in that the game plan could be similar with either on the field, but bad in that the defense wouldn't have to prepare for a much different type player, as they would if Lacy re-signs. If a guy like McCaffrey were available in, say, the third round, that might be enticing -- not saying he'd be as talented, but that kind of versatile back, similar to Montgomery. But first round is just too rich because of the Packers' needs, IMHO.
  • Hi Pete, after hearing that Lacy had been fined for being over weight, will an incentive-based contract, in your opinion, really materialize to anything? It's frustrating because we've seen how good he can be when he's playing around a true 230.
  • He's left plenty of reason to question whether it will work. It's up to him.
  • Special teams were awful again,ranked 29th watched Slocum run the special teams in the ground for years until collapse at Seattle finally forced McCarthy to make change. Hired Zook from staff instead of going outside of organization. Have to wait for another collapse,than maybe get someone outside.
  • When I started on the beat Nolan Cromwell was the ST teams coach, and I remember fans couldn't stand him. I don't think they've had a ST coach the fans liked in all my 24 years covering the team. I think a lot of that is the nature of the job. Put it this way, I don't think ST in any way affected their not making it to the Super Bowl.
  • Hi Pete, why do you think Murphy doesn't demand more media input from TT
  • I don't know for sure, never asked him, but I'd presume it's because he gives TT total control over football operations, and that includes how much TT talks to the media. TT does the bare minimum. It's one of and maybe his greatest weakness, the public side of the job, keeping fans informed of his thinking. Murphy should give Thompson full say over football operations, that system has been the foundation of the Packers' 25 years of success. But Thompson is mostly derelict in the public side of the job.
  • Where do you think TJ Watt will get chosen in the draft? How do you think he would fit with the Packers defense since they are in need of a pass rusher?
  • I haven't asked anybody about him yet, but he's kind of an interesting guy. From what I remember watching Wisconsin last year he was a standup OLB who rushed a lot, which is what the Packers do. I have to think they're giving him a good, hard look.
  • Pete: We need to win and we need to win NOW. We all know the Rodgers window is closing and shame on the Packers if we stand pat and only win 1 SB with this HOF QB. If Thompson isn't willing to sign a few key vets, then he must go. It's time for Murphy to feel TT out and make a decision. My bet is TT would have been gone long ago without these QBs.
  • Yeah, the two QBs have been the big reason behind the Packers' success. But Thompson did pick Rodgers, and while it seems like a given now, it wasn't necessarily back then. If Mike Sherman had still been GM, I seriously doubt he'd have taken Rodgers because he would have wanted someone who could help the team immediately. Thompson's early drafts were excellent -- Rodgers, Collins, Matthews, Raji, Jennings, Nelson. He needs a draft like those early ones now.
  • how much real pressure is TT under to do something to appease critics of complaceny?
  • He seems immune, or close to it, from outside pressure. If he's more active in free agency this year, it either will be because he came to that conclusion himself or some of his scouts helped convince him. At least from what I can tell, it doesn't seem like outside pressure influences him at all.
  • Packers should get more than one comp pick. Casy Hayward was an all pro.

    Pete - Comp picks should be more than one.
  • I was asking a scout in the league about that, he said the formula is based mostly on the contract he signs (though performance does factor in), and Hayward's deal was for about $5 million if I remember right, so it sounds like the Packers probably will get a fifth-round pick. The $5M is a good contract but it would take closer to $10M to get a third-round compensatory pick.
  • Who, if anyone, do you think the Packers may give the franchise tag to?
  • No one's getting the tag this year.
  • If Peppers wants to keep playing, there's a good chance he would want to stay in Green Bay and would be willing to be cap friendly. The real question is, what are the chances Ted keeps Peppers around, even if he only asked for something like 3mil/1 year guaranteed.
  • I would bet against him playing for that small a contract, but I really don't know. I'd have to think about whether I'd pay him that. Just going off the top of my head, maybe, and I'd mainly use him as an inside rusher. But they need to get younger and more athletic at OLB. Peppers had a pretty good year but he'd definitely declined (especially in the run game) last year, and you have to think that decline will continue. He's an amazing, amazing athlete, but he's 37.
  • If you're a Packer fan, why get your hopes up? We lost the playoff game with a defensive collapse. All the same defensive coaches return. Coach talks about how much he loves coaching the guys in the locker room. We never make trades or sign unrestricted free agents. There's too many holes to plug with 4th and 5th rounders and a first rounder from west of the Rocky Mountains (queue McKinley from UCLA). QB gripes about not being all-in. This offseason is shaping up like most every other one, isn't it?
  • It very well could turn out like many of the previous offseasons. I get why you're skeptical. But I can't say for sure it will. Maybe he'll be more active adding new players, maybe he'll hit big in the draft like he did his first few years here. We'll just have to wait and see on that.
  • Pete--As I see it, the problem of the "draft & develop" approach is that we often get very little out of a prospect until the 3rd, or most likely the 4th year (especially true for free agent types). If the prospect pans out we pay market price the next year. Seems like a risky approach. In some sense, we function as a minor league for other teams. Your thoughts?
  • I don't think that's the problem with it, because they can afford to keep the guys they really want. How many guys have they let go who made it big elsewhere? Hayward had an excellent season, he's the only one I can think of off the top of my head. And even there, I think they did what they had to do in letting him walk. The problem with being so heavily skewed to draft and develop as Thompson is, you have to draft especially well. Thompson's early drafts were great, his last five or so have cumulatively been pretty average. You can't draft average if that's the only way you're going to build your roster.
  • Another simple question.............re-sign Lacy or take a RB in a RB rich draft? Or BOTH?
  • Both. I'd only sign Lacy on a one-year deal with a lot of incentives. I'd start thinking RB in the draft in the third round.
  • Pete -

    Rich Hill of patspulpit.com just put out an article entitled, "Patriots are the perfect team to turn Packers RB Eddie Lacy into a star". To me, a Packer fan, this is scary.

    He writes, "Lacy is one of 17 players in NFL history to rush for 2,000+ yards, to receive for another 500+, and to score 20+ touchdowns in his first two years in the league..." And, "...While Lacy hasn’t worked out in the Packers system, the Patriots have a strong history of players succeeding with weight-clauses baked into their contracts...."

    Is bringing out the full potential of players with weight issues ONE MORE thing that New England and Belichick are better at, and that GB can't DO anything about?

    What specifically are the details of the Packers 'offseason program' for Eddie Lacy? Does this 'offseason program' need to shape up any less than Eddie himself?? How many weigh-ins have the Packers scheduled for him? Will the Packers set him up with a life-coach? Will they send him to a 'fat camp', where (along with some rich and lovely women) he can learn a new, healthful relationship to food? What would be the specific elements of an enlightened, proven 'offseason program'?
  • All right, this has to be the last question, have other duties I'm late getting to. I promised Mr. Daddy I'd answer his question, so here goes. As for the details of the program the Packers will have Lacy in if he re-signs, I don't know. Good luck finding out. They simply don't share those things, don't want other teams to know what they're doing. And Lacy never has been forthcoming about what he does or doesn't do. Maybe he'll allow some reporter to embed with him for a couple days, or he'll do a long interview with a reporter sometime this offseason, but I wouldn't bet on it. So I can't help you there, sorry. I think teams can have two weigh-ins a week during the season. Not sure if there are rules for the offseason on that. The Packers have all the resources he needs to learn about nutrition and lifestyle. They have a nutritionist on staff, Adam Korzan's full-time job is working with players on nutrition/diet/lifestyle, etc. So the resources are there. Maybe the Patriots would have more success with Lacy, maybe not. There's no way to know unless he goes there. I would think the Packers would want to have weight clauses (or body fat clauses) in his contract, that seems like almost a given. I am a little perplexed, as are you, that having all the Packers' resources didn't work the last two years. I still think it's mostly on Lacy, it's his career and they can't force him to do anything. But I do wonder if they've enabled him in any way, small or large. So they need to look at that with a harsh eye and change what needs to be changed if he re-signs. Thanks for this great question Mr. Daddy, and thanks for the great questions from everyone, sorry I could get to only a fraction of them but I have to get to other duties. Take care everybody and talk to you again soon.
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