Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Wednesday, Aug. 2 transcript

  • Hi Pete,
    With the emergence of these young safeties is there a chance we would see two of them fill the inside linebacker positions at the same time. Or would that leave the defense exploitable to the run?
  • Hi everybody, let's jump right in. Yeah Jordan, I'd think that's a possibility for certain situations. We haven't seen it in camp yet, but, for example, on really obvious passing downs they could go with 7 DBs, with two of them being Burnett and Jones playing essentially as ILBs, and Clinton-Dix and Brice as safeties. Lots of possibilities depending on opponent matchups, injuries, etc. I don't think we'd see it a lot, though, like on early downs, for the reason you suggest, vulnerability to the run.
  • Coach McCarthy talks about "GPS" sometimes - have the Packers added any other "tech" to training camp ? - other teams are doing virtual reality and motorized robotic tackling thingies - are the Packers being left behind ?
  • The Packers have been using GPS for more than five years. McCarthy has tweaked practice structure and also plans practice reps for individual players based on GPS data. So the Packers while not on the very forefront of that were among the first teams using GPS. He brings it up occasionally because I think the more data they acquire over the years, the more they learn and tweak things. My guess is the Packers and other NFL teams will start using those robotic tackling dummies either next year or the year after, as the technology improves. I think Pittsburgh and maybe one or two other teams have experimented with it in the NFL so far.
  • There is no doubt that Ha Ha supplanted Burnett as the best safety on The 53, it just comes down to the price for each and whether the Packers want to continue a youth movement by turning to Jones and Brice sooner rather than later. For all of TT's draft and develop, he usually isn't into third contracts so if I had to bet, I would say Ha Ha gets paid and Burnett (sadly) walks. Thoughts?
  • That's a possibility for sure, you have a good read on Thompson. A lot of it depends on how much Brice improves,and even Evans for that matter. The one thing is, they might be able to re-sign Burnett at a palatable price. He'll be 29 next year, so that could limit his value on the free agent market. So the Packers might be able to re-sign him for a reasonable price -- just guessing here, maybe in the $5M range a year, maybe a little more) thinking they'll get one or maybe two more years out of him. That's why it pays to wait, see how things go this season, the landscape could look different in February than it does now.
  • The Packers always seem to have depth on The 53 and practice squad given how well the front office drafts and identifies undrafted free agents. That said, it doesn't always seem to translate into high-end talent. What I mean is that although there look like eight or nine wide receivers look worthy of being The 53, the top end of that position group is still the old guard of Nelson, Cobb, and Adams. Sure there is a chance that Allison or one of the rookies makes a jump but I would be surprised if the top three guys at that position get supplanted. What are your thoughts re depth v. top-end talent on The 53?
  • That's very true.  It's a game of playmakers and difference makers, and those guys are relatively hard to find. The hit-miss rate around the league on first-round picks is probably under 50 percent as far as finding guys who are starting-caliber and viable players for the long-term, let alone standout, and percentages only go down the further you go into the draft. I agree they have pretty decent depth for guys that can play in the league, but especially on defense they're lacking top-end talent, and that's why they've had problems on that side of the ball since Woodson started declining a little and Collins' career ended in '11. That's where the King and Jones picks in the second round this year are big. If one or maybe even both of those guys are good players immediately, that helps the defense quite a bit, especially if one of them is a real difference maker.
  • This is a total FS1 question for Skip Bayless but I have to bring it up. Aaron Rodgers's legacy comes down to whether he wins at least one more Super Bowl. Sure there is no doubt that he is a first ballot Hall of Famer but he will jump up the all-time ranks if he wins multiple Super Bowls. Don't get me wrong, the Packers would be in trouble without him, but if he ends up winning just one Super Bowl and doesn't even have any other Super Bowl appearances, do you think it will be looked at as a disappointment?
  • Overall, yeah, I think it would and should be considered a disappointment if they only win one SB with Rodgers at QB. Same for Indy with Peyton Manning, that was a golden time for the Colts but also a disappointment they won only one SB. The window for Rodgers isn't as big as it was, but he still could have eight, nine really good years left. So there should be plenty of chances. But yeah, they really need to break through there. It's so rare to get this kind of player at quarterback. It doesn't guarantee titles, but it guarantees being in the running. You've got to take advantage.
  • I'm calling fraud on the Bennett signing. If he's that good, I just don't understand why Dallas, Chicago and especially New England wouldn't have kept him. Something doesn't add up, and I think Packers fans and the media have drunk the Marty B cool-aid.
    Your thoughts?
  • Basically, I admire your skepticism but in the end have to disagree. He's a really talented guy. The scouts from other teams i talked to about him after the signing said that while he's not as flat-out fast as Cook, overall he's a really good receiver, and a far, far superior blocker. So he's an upgrade for basically the same cost. I think there were some personality issues in Dallas and Chicago, he might have been tougher to keep happy at that time in his career, but he's older now. Last week he talked about this being his last stop in the NFL. I talked to an agent last week who had clients who played with Bennett with the Giants and Patriots and they loved him as a teammate. Maybe you'll end up being right, but it looks like a really good signing to me.
  • Pete--agree with your Clinton fix take. Boy, knock on wood we seem loaded at safety. Could Evans or Brice play corner I a pinch?
  • Funny how things can change relatively quickly in the NFL. Just a couple years ago the Packers' safety position was a disaster. Now it's a strength in both quality at the top and depth. Those two did play some slot corner late last year because of all the injuries, but that's not what you want. They're safeties for a reason.
  • Hey Pete. Most of what I have read indicates that Montgomery is going to be an average at best RB. Meaning, Green Bay will still be a pass first type of team, which isn't a surprise with Aaron Rodgers. My question is, do you think Montgomery has a chance to be a top tier RB in the league or is it more "use what you got?"
  • I'd be surprised if he's a top-tier back. Sure, that would be ideal, but his greatest asset is that he's a real receiver too. The league is going that way, with running backs who can split out and basically function as receivers. It creates all sorts of matchup/personnel issues and decisions for defenses. In New England's comeback in the SB last season, the key guy was James White, they kept splitting him out and throwing to him. That was the bulk of their offense in the fourth quarter. Montgomery here, McCaffrey getting drafted in Round 1 by Carolina. So Montgomery doesn't have to be a top-tier RB to be an effective and valuable player.
  • Hi Pete- Being and IU grad I am interested in how Spriggs has been doing. Also, how is Brice doing as well? Thanks
  • Spriggs looks a little thicker and stronger this year, looks a little more stout in the one-on-one pass blocking drills. We'll get a better feel in the preseason games, I'm guessing he'll play a lot.
  • Any hint of promise with the three running backs taken in the draft? I realize it's very early to judge, but it would nice if one of them turned out to be a surprise hit.
  • I know coaches and scouts can learn a lot by watching RBs in practice, but I can't tell all that much about how good they are as runners. I can only get a feel for that when there's tackling, and the Packers never tackle in practice. The exception might be that you could see Lacy's power even in "thud" tackling in practice his first camp, it jumped out. Nothing like that with any of these three. Have to see them in the preseason games. They took three of them, so if they know what they're then you have to think at least one will end up being a decent player, maybe even two. And who knows, maybe one will end up being pretty good. But I can't tell much about them right now as far as how good they are with the ball in their hands.
  • How many recievers do you see them taking? I see 7 with Jordy Cobb Adams Allison Davis Dupre and Janis and try to get yancey on the practice squad.
  • Yeah, probably a decent chance they keep seven.Your take could be right, though Yancey was the higher pick, so maybe he and Dupre will flip-flop. And Allison is suspended for the first game and won't count on the 53 that week, so that leaves a little wiggle room for Week 1. The question is what they'll do if Yancey and Dupre both do well in the preseason games. Then cutting either risks that guy getting claimed. Then Janis could be in danger, though his special teams play has plenty of value.
  • Nelson, Adams, Cobb, Bennett, Kendricks, many targets...your bet for season receiving TD leader?
  • I was thinking about that yesterday. I'm guessing it will be Nelson or Adams, but they might not have anyone top even the 80-catch mark. Don't forget Montgomery too, he'll probably have plenty of catches -- not lead the team, but that cuts into everybody else's receptions. That should make them tough to defend, they should be able to find a good matchup somewhere against any team.
  • To go along with the safety theme...have the Packers spent much time working Burnett, Brice, HHCD, or Jones in the slot in case they suffer outside CB injuries again this season?
  • That's a smaller part of it. The big thing is they've been using mostly either Burnett or Jones as an LB to help with matchups in the nickel. There already were three CBs on the field in the nickel, and playing one of those two at ILB provides a better cover guy than a standard ILB. You give up some bulk in taking on the run, but this is such a matchup game in the passing game that that's the way NFL defenses are going. They're getting more DBs on the field to give themselves a chance covering all these fast tight ends and good receiving running backs and spread formations.
  • Who has been getting the first team reps at right guard? haven't seen too much about that yet.
  • Jahri Evans. He'll be the starter there barring something unforeseen. He turns 34 later this month, but no red flags yet in camp regarding his play.
  • Hi Pete. We are all confident this year, but do you sense that the Packers have both confidence AND a this-is-the-year sense of urgency? Or is it just another business as usual preseason camp?
  • It's hard to get a feel for that stuff, media isn't in the locker room all that much -- basically a half hour a day when there's practice. You probably need to be in meetings, etc., to get a great feel for that. You do get a vibe that a few of the veterans -- Daniels, Bakhtiari, Rodgers, etc., -- are tired of going to the playoffs and sometimes even going deep, but not getting to the SB.
  • Haven't seen any reports on how Brian Price is doing. Might need him to anchor the nose if Guion suspended multiple games.
  • From what I've seen he's been OK against the run, sometimes gets some push and makes a play. His pass rush isn't real good, but as you suggest he's a run-down player. They very well might need him because of the Montravius Adams injury more so than Guion.
  • Are you as annoyed as the rest of us that Eddie Lacy showed up in terrific shape for Seattle?
  • I don't really know what kind of shape he's in. I know he made weight in the summer, not sure if he's had a weigh-in yet at camp, but I'd need to see him in practice to tell if he looks any different than he did the last two years in GB.
  • Hi Pete,

    Good talking to you as always...Even though it's ONLY August will Martellus Bennett really make a difference for the offense this year, or should I ask that question in December? This could easily be one of TT's best FA pick-ups! Thank you.
  • My guess is that he's going to be a really important player, even if his reception numbers are only OK or decent relative to the top tight ends in the league. We saw last year what a difference it made when Cook finally got healthy. Bennett isn't as fast but he's a huge guy (all of 6-6 and 275 pounds) and a good all-around receiver, and he's a much, much better blocker. That makes it tough on defenses, because if they go with passing personnel, the Packers will be better equipped to run the ball, and with run personnel he's a good receiver. My guess is he'll be an important guy, and if he gets hurt, that could be a problem, although the Kendricks signing could mitigate that some.
  • Hi Pete,

    When I was at camp this last weekend, I was really surprised by the fluidity of McCaffrey in both his routes and his hands.

    Is it unrealistic to think he could climb the proverbial wide receiver mountain in front of him to win a shot on the 53?
  • He's facing a tough road with the guys returning from last year plus two draft picks. He's looked pretty decent and has had his share of passes thrown his way, which means he's getting open and that the QBs trust him. But he's facing an uphill battle.
  • Given Bulaga and Linsleys injury history, do you think TT will be taking a long hard look at adding signing a veteran O Lineman agter the final cuts?
  • They're always looking but knowing them they're more likely to stick with the guys who have been with them since the offseason for the backup jobs.But we'll have to see what happens in the preseason. An injury in camp could change that.
  • While Cobb and CM3 may have better seasons this year, I still see them as "post-peak" -- and not a value at their current compensation.

    Do these guys get cut next year or will they take a pay haircut?
  • Can't argue with that. I have trouble seeing salary room for both Adams and Cobb next year -- Adams will be a free agent and could be in for a pretty big payday. So I'm guessing one of those two won't be back. Adams is younger and bigger, so if he has a good year, Cobb could be out. Matthews makes $11.4 million next year. I guess it all depends on how well he plays this year. He's still a talented guy, and their defense has a shortage of that kind of talent, so they lose some leverage there. If he has a good season, they might just have to pay. Or they could do a contract extension with him that lowers his cap number but guarantees him that money over a couple seasons. But if he misses several games because of injuries, or gets hurt and plays through it but can't play well because he's diminished, then who knows?
  • Us Montana folks are pulling for Tripp to make the team. Decent chance?
  • Yeah, he's playing with the starters on all four core special teams, and he's working I think with the No. 2s at ILB, He's got a real chance.
  • Will Gannett be continuing with the game reviews every Tuesday now that Bob McGinn has retired? If so who will be doing these and will they change any?
  • Yes. Eric Baranczyk, who played in college at UW-La Crosse and has coached in college and HS, has been co-writing a film review for us for about five years -- he did it with Cliff Christl for a couple years, then me the last three. We'll continue to do that, and it will run online on Monday evenings and in the newspaper Tuesday morning. Eric knows his stuff, you'll like it. If you read it in the past you know that the format is different than McGinn's -- we have a main topic for the bulk of the story, and then include several other observations after that.
  • Are you the senior beat man Pete?
  • Actually no. My first year on the beat was 1993. Tom Silversten's was, I think, '89, maybe '90.
  • It would be nice to keep Janis but he just doesn't seem to be able to grasp the playbook and be a consistant receiver....there might be other sot take his special teams play and be more overall value
  • That's a possibility, though, for instance, neither Yancey nor Dupre has much special teams experience from college and might not be very good at punt and KO coverage, and Davis doesn't have Janis' size and strength as a tackler. So Janis has real value, especially covering punts and kicks. He'll have to do it well, though, because the competition is stiff for the roster spots at WR.
  • Hi Pete-
    Who do u think will start at D-line and cornerback for the Packers?
  • Since they play nickel most of the time, we'll call that the starters. So that means two DL, and I'll go with Daniels and Clark, though Lowry will play a lot too. At CB, I'm going with House and King on the outside. I really don't know who's going to be the slot guy. Right now Rollins is ahead of Randall, but that could change, that's one of the biggest battles to watch.
  • Hi Pete! I specifically remember reading a column of yours regarding the Packers pass rush and how Thompson did little to address it through the draft. How has Matthews, Perry and Fackrell looked? And do you envision any sort of improvement this year from the younger guys?
  • yeah, if I'm the Packers, that's by far my biggest concern heading into the season. Matthews and Perry have looked OK during one on ones. Fackrell hasn't done much in that regard as far as I can tell.  Just today the defensive assistants met with the media, and Winston Moss said that while Fackrell is very assignment-sure he wants him to play with more abandon and become more of a playmaker, so that confirms to me that Fackrell has had a quiet camp so far.
  • 2 part: Do you think Lang bringing up in the media last year how long they have to pass block because Rodgers holds the ball so long and wasn't throwing the timing throws contributed to him not being resigned? Do you think Rodgers is in trouble this year if he can't cut if loose with the new addition to the O-line? Have a hard time thinking 34 yr old Evans can hold up for 7 seconds.
  • Sorry about the delay, had to consult with a co-worker on something. No, I don't think Lang saying that had anything to do with not re-signing him. They tried pretty hard to re-sign him, from what I can tell might have gotten in the $8M a year range, but Detroit when higher so that's where he went. Everything i saw and heard suggested they wanted him back but in the end would go only so far financially. As for Evans, there's definitely a chance he could decline hard and fast, though at least in the first few days of practice I haven't seen any red flags. It's a long season, so it's something to keep an eye on. But i though that was a pretty good, strategic signing. The thing is, when Rodgers holds the ball a long time like you suggest, he's running around, so that usually helps the linemen -- not always, but usually. I know some people foresaw disaster last year after they cut Sitton and went with Taylor, and it turned out they were fine. My guess is they'll be OK here, too, but it is worth keeping an eye on how well Evans holds up.
  • OK, that's going to have to do it. Thanks for all the great questions, there will be a lot of news over the next few days with three night practices starting Thursday and ending with Family Night on Saturday. Keep up with the news on, and we'll chat again next week. Take care.
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