Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Thursday, Oct. 26 transcript

  • Is mathews slowing down in the pass rush or are teams doubling him more? I feel like i see him doubled all the time now
  • OK everybody, let's get this started. I think he's slowing down. There were plenty of plays where he was single blocked last week. He made a couple good plays in the backfield in run defense, but he's just not as explosive a pass rusher as he was a few years ago. Doesn't mean he won't still have his moments, but down in and down out he doesn't seem to be the same guy he was rushing the passer.
  • The Pass Rush for the most part has been weak this year. They have around $30mil tied up between Mathews, Perry, + Daniels. 12 sacks + 27th ranking is not going to cut it. I like Biegel, but he might add a little, but he isn't going to save this defense. Time for the D to step up and help out the backup QB.
  • Yeah, the rush is an issue, it was last year even though their sack stats were pretty decent -- I think they were seventh or eighth in the league in sacks percentage in '16, but I didn't think they that good a rushing team. That's clearly their biggest need from where I sit. Agreed that to think Biegel is going to turn around the defense is a pipe dream, but any little improvement would help, so if he could add a little something,that would help. Getting Ahmad Brooks healthy will help some too.
  • Good day Pete, I've been a fan of MM since he started. He has a brilliant offensive mind, but I sometimes think his stubbornness gets in his way. For the last 3 years I've felt Capers needs to go. In his day he was innovative and consistently surprised the opposing offence. Now everything is predictable and our defense surprises no one. The Pack needs a younger innovator who can motivate and bring out the best in his players. The question is, do you see a change coming in 2018?
  • Depends on how the next couple months go. If they pull things together and go .500 without Rodgers, that probably means the defense started playing better. But if things continue as they've been, I'd think McCarthy would take a hard look at it. I know he has the greatest respect for Capers -- that goes league-wide, at least the people I talk to around the league express nothing but respect for Capers -- but that doesn't mean he wouldn't make a change. He's turned over his coaching staff before. But I'm sure a lot depends on how things go the rest of the season.
  • Why was there so much confusion in the secondary? Saw in Caper's Press Conference that they were playing a lot of zone to stop screens, yet the Saints screened all over them. I guess his game plans are not working?
  • The Packers are saying Burnett's absence is part of the problem because he's the quarterback of the defense. And I'm sure it's tougher when he's out. But they have other experienced guys on that side of the ball -- Clinton-Dix is a smart player and in his fourth year, Martinez is in his second season. So I'd think they'd still be able to keep things well organized. The Saints have a good offense, and McCarthy said they used nine different personnel groupings, so getting into the right defense might be a little more difficult against them than most. But that second half was pretty rough, just a bad showing by the defense.
  • Pete we know that McCarthy will not callout his players publicly. Usually he dumps failures and mistakes into the 'we need to get better and clean that up basket'. A month ago Randall got pulled from the game and had a tantrum on the sideline, then got banished to the locker room. Since then he's had an interception in 3 straight games and seems more accountable and more mature in his reactions during the game. I don't think pointing fingers and throwing guys under the bus should happen very often. But do you think holding coaches and players accountable publically has it's place in motivation.
  • It can. McCarthy tried that with Lacy last year and it didn't work. I'm sure it goes back in sports forever, but I know, for instance, George Steinbrenner used to anonymously leak criticism of his players to the media as a "high-ranking team source" to motivate them. I'm guessing it doesn't work all that well on most guys though if you do it on the record unless maybe the criticism is nothing that you haven't also said to them face to face. But even then, nobody likes to be embarrassed publicly by their boss. It creates resentment. I think I remember Bruce Arians calling out a guy or two earlier this year and don't think it did the Cardinals much good. But benching, that can be a great motivator. Bobby Knight always called the bench the best motivating tool he had. A benching is public, because everyone can see it, but it's not publicly criticizing a guy with words. Benching seems to have helped with Randall; didn't work when McCarthy benched Lacy two years ago.
  • Think MM is second guessing the decision to cut Taysom Hill. He seemed more capable of going downfield effectively along with his scrambling. Maybe I am the only one who thinks Hill would be the better choice, then so be it.
  • I suspect they are. Not that he'd be the starter right now, I'm sure that still would be Hundley, he has so much more NFL experience. But Hill can spin the ball pretty well and is an impressive athlete, so he'd be an alternative if Hundley struggles for a month or more.
  • Hi Pete,

    Always a pleasure...So how would you rate "the good," "the bad" and "the ugly" of the season so far? I say the good has been the play of the rookies - The DB's King and Jones and the RB Jones, the bad has obviously been the injury to Rodgers and I'd say the ugly has been the (usually) porous defense we always seem to have in not making plays when needed and that # 12 could offset...Your thoughts?
  • Can't disagree with any of that. Aaron Jones rates really high on the good, he's been a surprise. Looks like he's a real player. That's one of the reasons to draft three RBs, you just can't be sure who's going to make the jump to the NFL, so take a few swings and hope to connect on at least one. Jones played so well against Cincy, not so well last week, got blocked pretty well trying to defend the run at ILB. The defense has to be a disappointment. It showed signs of improvement early in the season, and it still could end up improving because of the young guys getting better. But the freshest thing on all our minds is the second half of last week, and that indeed was ugly.
  • With all the high draft picks on defense, why aren't they producing? Coaching...talent?
  • These things usually are a combination, and I'm sure this is too. Thompson has missed on his share of picks, and more importantly, he hasn't hit really big on any recently, a Matthews-Collins-Daniels-type pick, for a few years. Those are the guys that really make the difference, you need probably three difference makers to be a good defense, and the Packers don't have that. I'm seeing one, Daniels. Clark is looking like a promising pick but I don't know if he'll be that level a player; Clinton-Dix played so well last year but hasn't been as good this year, with speculation that he's injured though he's not been on the injury report. King and Jones look promising, but then so did Randall and Rollins in their rookie seasons. Anyway, back to your main point, I think a lot of it is talent, mainly that they don't have enough difference makers and don't have enough pass-rush talent, and that's what you need to play good defense. Matthews is in decline, and they haven't been proactive in finding a replacement and using him as a designated rusher or ILB instead. But you do wonder how much falls on coaching, too. As I said earlier, Capers is a highly respected guy around the league and McCarthy thinks very highly of him. But maybe there's something that's not working right, maybe they need to use some guys in different ways. I will say, I remember everyone calling for Donatell's head, and they got it, and then Bob Slowik was made DC and things got worse. So to assume change will make things better is wrong. McCarthy has made plenty of changes on his coaching staff over the years. But I'm sure the rest of the season will be important for him evaluating that.
  • I'm not going to give up on the Packers, but I absolutely think the Detroit game coming off the bye with a reasonably healthy team qualify's as must win to keep any playoff hopes alive. Am I being overly dramatic?
  • Must-win is always pretty strong unless it's actually a mathematical must-win. A loss drops them to 4-3, so they'd still be OK mathematically, though a lot depends on how Minnesota does the next few weeks. There still will be half the season to go after this, and maybe it takes Hundley a couple weeks to play well enough to be able to win some games. But I get your point. Coming off the bye, extra time to figure out how to play with Hundley, a chance to get healthier, playing at home against a division contender. Pretty big game for mid-season.
  • It seems many fans wanted at least a second round draft pick for Hundley this fall. Now suddenly he isn't good enough and we need to sign a veteran. Which is he? I say give him an extended opportunity before passing judgement.
  • Agreed. The second-round pick wasn't happening by the end of training camp, Hundley just didn't play well enough in preseason to draw that kind of offer. But he has a chance to do so now playing in real games. Great opportunity for him. He deserves some time to adjust to the speed of real games and for McCarthy to figure out what he does best and game plan around that. Last week wasn't an encouraging start, but it wasn't a disaster either. He didn't play recklessly or make dumb throws or anything like that. But he has to make more plays if they're going to win some games.
  • TD's being scored with 10 guys on the field, players out of position and just looking straight up lost. Is Dom Capers Defense too complicated? Too many many sub packages?
  • I wonder that too. NFL defense is complex, offenses have become so sophisticated. Offenses sub a lot, and this is such a matchup passing game, getting RBs against LBs, or a good TE against an LB, or a receiver against a safety (or even LB), so you have to be able to match personnel. And disguising helps confuse QBs pre-snap. But if it's causing assignment issues, maybe things have to be simplified. Roster turnover is so high in today's NFL because of the cap, so you have to be able to play with young players. I do wonder how the complexity of the Packers' scheme compares with the Patriots. The Patriots supposedly have radically different game plans depending on opponent, and they play both 4-3 and 3-4, but maybe they have found a way to simplify things. Then again, they're one of the league's worst defenses this year.
  • Pete, thanks for the opportunity to chat about Packer football. With some Packer personnel weaknesses becoming highlighted by the absence of Aaron Rodgers, what should be our top priority next year; DE/OLB, OT, WR, CB...?
  • I'd put outside rusher first, by a lot. After that, maybe a tie between CB and WR/TE (a fast, talented pass catcher). After that, offensive line. They need to get better depth, and they might have to replace Jahri Evans in the offseason as well as need a backup LT.
  • Pete, thanks for doing the chat. I keep seeing these defensive formations with 52 off the ball and Lowry on the edge, and I'm wondering, are they quietly moving to a 4-3?
  • Kinda wondered that too, maybe we'll see more of it as the season goes on. Because that is a standard 4-3 look. I'm sure they're looking hard for something, anything that helps. If I remember right it was the bye week in '14 when they moved Matthews to ILB because their run defense was getting killed, and that definitely made them better. Maybe they're considering some kind of personnel change or move again this bye week.
  • with 13 screws being in Rodgers shoulder is it most likely he is done for the year?
  • I don't know if that affects things one way or the other. From what I could learn researching collarbone injuries online after he was hurt, surgery doesn't necessarily mean a longer recovery. I don't know if 13 screws is a lot for that injury or not, it might be standard. I'd still think him playing this year is a relative long shot because it's on the throwing side, but you never know.
  • It sounds like the likelihood of Rodgers returning this year is slim to nun. Obviously coaches and players won't roll over. But as a fan do I hope they make the playoffs with little chance to make a superbowl, or hope they lose out and get a high draft pick?
  • That's a good question. I'm inclined to think the latter but don't have a strong feeling one way or the other. If they go to the playoffs but don't have a chance at the SB, which they would with Rodgers, then part of me says, what's the point? Drafting late every year contributes to their roster issues. So the higher the pick the better. But jobs are on the line -- as you've seen from the questions about Capers, and there have been a lot of them in the in-box that proved redundant to the ones I answered, the performance for the rest of the year matters, a lot. There's no way they're tanking. I guess it's up to fans to look at it as they choose. If they get to the playoffs, that means some players are playing well, and if some young players emerge, that would bode well for next season. And if Hundley plays well, they could get good trade value next spring. So call it as you see it.
  • Is 52 or 18 worth the money they are being paid? Should Ted look at cutting either in the off season?
  • The answer is pretty clearly no on both. If Adams gets paid, someone (either Nelson or Cobb) will have to go, they can't tie up that much money at that position. Cobb would be the logical choice. I could see them doing a new contract with Matthews, maybe some guaranteed money for a much lower average, and either make him a designated rusher or move him to ILB.
  • Do you have any information about whether the Pack will be activating Biegel?
  • No information on that. But he returned to practice last week, they then have the bye this week and a longer week next week because they play Monday night. If I had to bet, I'd bet on him getting activated next week and playing against Detroit.
  • is Aaron Jones going the be the number one RB going forward due to the success he's had so far?
  • I don't see any way he's not. He's played really well and is the best thing they have going on offense. I'd think he'll get a large, large majority of the snaps. I do wonder why they're not giving Mays a little bit of a look too. Probably because they don't want to introduce a guy in the offense who hasn't played in a game while they're playing a new QB. But I thought he showed some promise in preseason too, and maybe he'd be the best backup. Montgomery offers matchup problems for defenses because of his receiving skills, but the gap between Jones and him as runners is huge, so Jones has to play a lot.
  • If Brett Hundley falls flat on his face in the next, say 3 games, will McCarthy consider bringing in a veteran QB?
  • He might have to. That will be the real test for how he feels about Hundley. The more highly he regards Hundley, the longer he'll stick with him through early struggles. I'd think he needs to give him several games though to see what he really has.
  • Kyler Fackrell doesn't belong on an NFL roster... agree or disagree?
  • He's really borderline, a special-teams player only. So if he's good enough to do that, I guess that means he belongs on a roster. But he's been invisible at OLB, if that's what you mean. Just hasn't helped the defense at all. That's one of the misses on defensive draft picks that's hurt the Packers, he was a third-rounder, that's a fairly high pick.
  • Do you see anyone on the roster who can be traded away for a significant draft pick? Realistically the Packers can't believe they will make the playoffs or at best go past the first round.
  • The only guys who would garner a high pick are guys you wouldn't trade because you're going to need them next year to have a shot at winning the SB.
  • 3rd down offense... I felt like last game they were in favorable distances but were really reluctant to run the ball. Thoughts? That screen to Adams looked like execution from an 8th grade team.
  • Yeah, that third-and-one pass to Adams was a bad play. Re-watching it, it sure looked like a run-pass option, and Hundley either took the wrong option or he needed to get the ball out faster and with more zip on it. That one probably falls on Hundley. The problem is, third-and-2 (even third-and-a-full-1) are kinda passing downs in the NFL today, I see games all the time where teams run and get stopped. I'll bet it's close to 50-50 conversion running on third down. But they might have to rely more on Jones than they'd want, or than they would with Rodgers playing.
  • Pete,
    Isn't it time for all the experts (and us fans) who thought Martellus Bennett was an automatic upgrade over Jared Cook to admit we could not have been more wrong? Allegedly Bennett is a great blocker, but he is far from a difference maker as a tight end.
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