Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Submit your questions for Pete's chat at 1 p.m. Tuesday in advance of the Bears-Packers game Thursday night.

  • Pete - why is it for the last three years the Packers have struggled against a man underneath with two safeties over the top coverage? It seems like the way to beat it is to either run the ball effectively or bring in more dynamic receivers who can get open. The Packers under McCarthy talk alot about the run game but have failed to develop it. At the WR spot our best deep threat is Nelson and he is 32. What gives?
  • OK, let's get this started. You kind of answered your own question Bill. They don't have a fast, explosive receiving corps. And they haven't run the ball well enough to get teams out of two deep coverage. So they have to grind with a shorter passer game. They tried to address the speed with Janis and Davis, but they were late-round picks (seventh and fifth), so even those are kind of, if not flyers, at least  longer shots. One thing they can do, and Eric Baranczyk made this our lede point in the column we co-author after reviewing the game videotape, is to get some more carries to the rookie running backs and see if one of them can add some juice to the run game. Montgomery has some valuable qualities as an RB, mainly his ability as a receiver out of the backfield, but he might be thinking too much as a runner this year, and not going enough on instincts. IMHO, the Packers need to find out if one of those rookies can add some juice to the run game and share snaps with Montgomery, diversify the offense some. But they're not going to get faster at receiver until they add faster players, and that won't happen until next offseason.
  • Do you think we are having that old problem again where the receivers are not getting separation. It seems Aaron has to run around every play waiting for someone to get open.
  • Yeah, there's truth to that. As the previous question suggested, this isn't a fast receiving corps, it's more based on skill and route running, etc., relative to other receiving corps in the league. So it does have its problems against man coverage. Bennett isn't as fast as Jared Cook, so they've lost the ability to stretch the seam that Cook brought in the final third of last season when he came back from his ankle injury. Maybe Kendricks can supply some of that, he got downfield and drew a penalty Sunday, and had a 51-yard  catch and run. McCarthy and Rodgers also will have to figure out the personnel as the season goes on, and the best ways to deploy them.
  • Pete,
    Chicago's got the 8th-best running game and is 27th in passing. Does the Pack play more base and stuff the run? Could be a low-scorer, especially with all the injuries at offensive tackle.
  • Yeah, interesting question. Because it's a match-up thing vs. getting your best players on the field thing. Going with their best players means using Jones and Burnett at LB/slot corner, but playing run-stopping personnel would mean playing Jake Ryan, or maybe even as you suggest going base with three defensive linemen and four LBs. The one thing is, with Jones and Burnett playing LB in the nitro, at least Jones is big for a safety at 220 pounds. So he can handle the physical stuff better. Another option is their "Sooner' package, which is three defensive linemen, two outside linebackers, but one of the two inside linebackers is a safety (either Burnett or Jones). Wouldn't be surprised if we see some of that rather than pure base 3-4. Long story short, maybe against the Bears we'll see a greater mix of personnel than we did the first three weeks, when it was almost all nitro.
  • So what is the strategy Thursday? Let the injured get another week off and basically play the lineup we had Sunday or bring some reinforcements in?
  • It's hard to tell outside looking in. They listed Bakhtiari as "limited participation" yesterday -- they didn't practice, so it was an estimation. But that suggests to me there's a decent chance he's going to play. With Murphy going on IR a little earlier today that's big, because otherwise they're reaching really deep on their depth chart, and either going with a LT they just signed off Arizona's practice squad this week, or a playing a LT who isn't a tackle. Just looking at all the guys they listed as limited yesterday -- Brice, Cobb, Daniels, Perry, Ryan -- it seems like they're thinking those guys will play. Or maybe they're just trying to keep the Bears unsure. The truth is, there's probably no answering that question until we see who's active on Thursday.
  • Does Clinton-Dix do anything besides preventing a 50 yard completion? He seems to have all the physical attributes but little anticipation or sense for the game.
  • There are times when his anticipation is really good, and occasional times when he seems just a half-step late -- he missed out on an interception for that reason against Atlanta. I guess overall I'd say its pretty good. After all, he's not a burner, his 40 time at the combine was 4.58, that's not fast for the position. Nick Collins was in the upper 4.3s. So Clinton-Dix can't outrun mistakes like Collins could.
  • What is the story on hamstrings? Something in the training and conditioning program?
  • Not that I know of. The Packers have had a lot of them in this stretch, but it's a pretty common injury in the NFL. I find injuries to be one of the hardest things to get a handle on in this league. I was talking with a former NFL journalist over the weekend who covered the league for years, and he thinks they're doing something wrong in overtraining/treating modern NFL players. In the end, I just find it hard to agree, but I can't say for sure he's not right. It's just that players have to operate at close to 100 percent output working out and then on almost every play in order to be good enough to be on the field, but that that makes you more susceptible to injury. That's my take.
  • Hi Pete. Why isn't Ripkowski playing more and being handed the ball to run from time to time? He was a brute force running the ball the end of last year. Seems like since his fumble in the Atlanta playoff game last year, he hasn't played much.
  • Yeah, didn't mention him, he's another guy who might get more touches. Though maybe there's concern with fumbling after the big one he had in the NFC championship game, and then he had one in the preseason too. But I agree, they need to try some other runners, diversify the run game some.
  • Pete..... Do you think Josh Jones can turn into a Charles Woodson type of player? With his speed and athleticism he could cause havoc for years to come...
  • I think he might have the potential to be an outstanding player, but I'd think he'd be a little different than Woodson. Woodson was such smart and instinctive player as well as a great athlete, his ability to play cat and mouse with the QB, to blitz and fake blitz, to be a ballhawk, he was just really rare. Jones is an extremely dynamic athlete but he's a lot bigger (220 pounds) and not as good a cover guy, and I'm guessing not that kind of ballhawk. But he's also capable of being more physical, and he's looking like he can be a really good blitzer in a different way (two sacks last week). He seems more perfectly suited for that nitro LB role, whereas Woodson was more a slot cornerback, though he also was a willing tackler in the run game.
  • Why, with our O line issues, do AR & MM refuse to employ a quick-hitting, rhythm passing game to, open things up for both the run, & eventually for the longer strikes downfield that they like so much? Is it because the D *sits* on these quick routes, knowing AR has maybe 2 seconds to release the ball, taking that option away?

    Can our receivers comsistently create a window for AR, 5 - 12 yards downfield, in 2 seconds?
  • It does seem like this offense is best when it goes with the short, quick-rhythm stuff and goes from there. Maybe defenses are taking some of that away, but that's the way to get the ball out fast and protect your QB and get the timing and rhythm going. It also means shorter gains and grinding out drives. I think Rodgers also likes to break the pocket and make plays, that's a big part of the offense. So I'm sure it can be a fine line. But yeah, going back to the second half of 2009, this offense with Rodgers at quarterback always seems to be its best when it does a healthy dose of quick-rhythm throws.
  • Do the Packers miss TJ Lang? Evans is bad
  • I'm sure they miss Lang some, he's a Pro Bowl-caliber player. But they've also had some really tough matchups on the DL so far, too. Seattle's starting DL might be the best in the league, and Cincinnati's is really good too, especially Geno Atkins, he's a one-man wrecking crew. I still think Evans will be more than good enough, but he is an older guy, so it is worth keeping an eye on whether he hits the wall. Would you rather have Lang and Evans? For sure. Would you rather have Lang at $9.5 million or Evans at $3 million? With the cap and the players that will need to be signed next year, etc., I'd still say Evans at $3 million.
  • Pete, Can you help me with this? Last year's O-line was praised by Packer coaches for being one of the best ever. Even this year, during training camp, we heard praise for the O-line. Yet when I give 'em the eye test, they don't ass. Rodgers scrambles and dodges his way to open ground and continually htis receivers who have to break off routes. Compare the performance to Brady who can stand-in all day and not get touched. Actually, you can't, because there is no comparison. Yes, I know about the injuries this year but even when healthy, Bulaga and Bahktiari are serviceable, not great. What am I missing?
  • I'll have to disagree with you. Bakhtiari is a really good pass protector. That's a huge step down from him to Murphy, can make all the difference in the world. He and Bulaga, when healthy, are one of the better and maybe among the best few tackle tandems in the league. That matters a lot, because those outside guys are going against talented rushers every week. So I'd call them better than serviceable. Brady is excellent at sliding in the pocket, and he probably gets the ball out faster than Rodgers, in part because he has to, he can't run like Rodgers. IMHO, the Packers' starting offensive line is pretty good, but depth was a weak spot going into the season, and that's proven to be the case.
  • Hi Pete....with all of the tackle injuries, isn't this one of those times that Ted Thompson needs to trade a 4th or 5th round pick for a tackle that has some experience? I understand it takes time to pick up the offensive system, but that's the same for picking up someone off another team's practice squad. Desperate times require desperate measures....
  • I would have said no until Murphy went on IR. Now I guess they first need to see if the guy they signed today off Arizona's practice squad (Ulrick John) is good enough. If not, you might be right. They can't have their season ruined because they aren't at least good enough at tackle.
  • As a 50 year Packer fan how about if the fans get a reality check and realize that while a good team, this isn't a SB caliber team.
  • I'd say it's a little early to conclude that. I remember when they won the SB in '10, they were 8-6 and had lost back-to-back games, and a lot of people wanted everyone fired. And then they went on a run and were the best team in the league in January and February. If the rookies on defense improve a lot during the season, which isn't unrealistic, the defense could be better than it's been. We're three weeks in. Is there a team out there that looks like a SB team? New England is 2-1, has lost at home once and needed a TD in the final 30 seconds to win at home last week. Pittsburgh lost last week. I guess Atlanta has looked as good as good anyone and it almost lost to the Bears in the opener. I certainly wouldn't rule out this team going to the Super Bowl. Would I predict it today? No. I'd go with Atlanta from the NFC. But it's incredibly early, so much can happen between now and January.
  • Hey Pete, Thanks for the chat! Incredible come-from-behind win on Sunday! Though I've watched football my entire life, I've never played or coached. After watching the game on Sunday, I have a couple questions as to why players do specific things - 1) Multiple times I feel like I saw Montgomery get a full head of steam, run up to defenders, and then stop, losing all momentum. He would inevitably get tackled. Is there a strategy to doing this versus lowering the shoulder and trying to bust through? 2) I thought I saw Kevin King playing 5-10 yards off the line for much of the game. I assume that's so the receiver doesn't beat him with speed, but it seems to often lead to 10 yard catches (followed by fairly prompt tackles). Given King's size and strength, why don't they try lining up right at the LOS to disrupt the timing of the play early? Thanks for your insight!
  • Yeah, Montgomery definitely looked hesitant or indecisive on a few of his runs, like he's thinking too much and not trusting his instincts. I don't think it was strategy, it was just something he needs to correct. Agree on King in off coverage also, on a couple plays he allowed too big a cushion. I'm guessing that's because he's a young guy and didn't want A.J. Green beating him deep. I have to think that with experience he won't give up such a big cushion, and that he'll trust himself more to close quicker, he did give up a couple easy completions.
  • Pete,

    Isn't it time to admit the Packers don't really have any back-up tackles?

    After two training camps, a year in the off-season weight-lifting program, and some actual live game experience... shouldn't we see a glimmer of hope from either Spriggs or Murphy?

    At their best, they're struggling to maintain their blocks.
    At their worst, they're getting mauled and overwhelmed.

    Would it be a big deal to just reach an injury settlement with either?
  • I thought Murphy was OK at right tackle, and I wonder if he also might be able to play guard. He's just not a left tackle, though I do wonder when he hurt his foot last week -- I can't say I noticed when it happened -- and if it affected his play. Spriggs was a disappointment, no question. He really struggled in the preseason, though he was better in the finale. He's in his second season, and they liked him enough to spend a second-round pick on him, so I wouldn't just cut him loose now. I'd work with him this offseason, bring him to camp next year and decide off that. Now, if I'm the Packers I wouldn't count on him to be the backup LT next season or assume he's making the roster, which was the case going into this season. But there's no reason to cut him loose now.
  • Please update on any injury news. Rumor going around that Murphy not only will miss this game but may be done for the year.
  • In case I wasn't explicit about it earlier, they put Murphy on IR earlier today. The injury report for today's practice won't come out until later this afternoon. McCarthy did say at his press conference today that if a guy isn't at least a limited participant today, he probably won't play Thursday.
  • Thanks Pete. Rodgers had what 6 sacks on Sunday? What's the packers all time record for sacks allowed in 1 game? Is that the game Allen Barbre had what was probably the worst game ever by an o-line man.
  • The most sacks they've given up in a game was 11 against Detroit in 1965, assuming that was Starr but don't know it for a fact.
  • I'll be honest, I wouldn't have been shocked at all with a loss this weekend. On paper, the Bengals were an inferior team, though one that has given the Packers trouble over the years. Can you think of any other team in the league that could lose three of its four top offensive tackles, it's best D-lineman, it's best OLB, arguably its best CB, a key playmaker at WR, and other depth players, and somehow still beat another NFL team? It's an incredible testament to Rodgers, McCarthy, and all the other professionals who are out there grinding out a hard fought victory.
  • New England seems to be the ultimate team for winning games regardless of circumstances, mainly because of Brady but Belichick must be a big factor too, because they went 3-1 without Brady last year. It was tough circumstances for the Packers, especially playing without Daniels because they're not that talented on that side of the ball, and he's their best guy. I really don't think they missed Cobb or House that much -- Allison is a pretty good receiver himself, and I think King is their best CB already. But missing both tackles plus Daniels and Perry, that was tough for a team that isn't deep on the OL or on defense. Remember, though, that Cincy was missing a really good receiving tight end (Eifert) and an explosive rookie receiver (Ross). This is life in the NFL. You have to find a way to make do.
  • Murphy now on IR to join Barclay and Spriggs. Guess the upside is these are the backups and if Bulaga/Bak can get healthy we will be ok. However, incredible that we may start two street free agents at tackle by game 4.
  • Very important point. This has been a bad run of injuries, but still no key starters lost to a long-term injury. The closest thing to that is Perry, who even if he returns this week or next will be playing with a club on his hand for a month or so. He won't be the same player until the club comes off. But as long as they stay away from a key player being lost for the season, they're doing well on the injury front.
  • Pete, a lot is said on some of TT's worst draft picks, but it could be arguably be discussed that Derrick Sherod (although technically not a bust as it was an injury) is up there because it appears to this day that the o-line issues have never been solved. Had Sherrod panned out, he couldve been a mainstay for a decade, as it was, it was a short time in GB. Thoughts?
  • Sherrod is right up there near or at the top of the list for Thompson busts. Now, let's first say all GMs have their busts, there's no getting out of that job unscathed. But yeah, that was a costly miss. And let's be clear, there's nothing to say he was going to be that good a LT even if he hadn't been hurt. It's not like he looked that great as a rookie. He might have busted anyway.
  • Is Jones big enough to play the nitro LB full time and move Burnett back to safety or slot corner ala last week? I'd rather have Burnett as the slot than Rollins/Hawkins.
  • Yeah, Jones is bigger than Burnett (220 to 209, I think). I'd guess that their primary defense will remain just as it was last week, with both guys as LBs/slot CBs. When House is back, I don't know whether he or Randall will play across from King, but I'd think Jones and Burnett will stay in the front seven regardless, and that Burnett will be the slot rather than a CB. At least against most teams.
  • Bennett has been underwhelming with his effort blocking and drops. Is he engaged or is he just taking a paycheck? He does not seem to play with alot of energy
  • I disagree with the blocking, I think he's been a good blocker and given good effort there. The drops have kind of come out of the blue, don't remember seeing a hint of that in camp, or of hearing about it being an issue for him earlier in his career. I'd agree he's not a demonstrative hustler, kind of goes at his own pace between plays, etc., but his effort once the ball is snapped looks good to me.
  • With Bulaga's injury, his injury history, and the fact that our backup tackles are now simply guys off the street--does TT go bold and trade for Texans holdout LT Duane Brown? Pricey, but it is a "win now" league and we won't be winning against good teams with street free agents at tackle
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