OK, let's get started. Mark wants to get to the heart of the matter, so let's start there. It's hard to think Capers is going to survive this season, just doesn't seem likely, so yes, I'm betting he gets let go. I'm going to address the other issues in my weekend column so I think I'll save my opinion on the rest of it for that. I will say, I don't think there will be any other changes -- I highly doubt Murphy is going to push out Thompson, and Thompson isn't firing McCarthy.
Both. He's on his rookie contract, so he's not expensive, and he's gotten valuable playing time. But they should always be looking for a developmental backup QB and should want to bring in someone who can compete with Hundley for the No. 2 job, so I'd think they'd draft one in the final three rounds.
The player that stands out in that way this year is Josh Jones. He looked really dynamic in the offseason practices but only had some flashes of that kind of play this year (the Cincy game in particular). He blew his share of coverages, that's for sure. It could be that Capers' defense makes it tough for young DBs to play a lot their rookie years. It's a tough transition for rookies to learn the NFL regardless of the scheme, but Capers' scheme might be a little more difficult, I've talked to a scout or two who thinks so but others who don't.
The guys you mentioned, Michael Clark of course. Trevor Davis, Biegel, M. Adams.
Agreed. The defense played well enough to win and did a good job on the outside receivers. But offensively the Packers did next to nothing. And they were without Perry and Matthews. Tough to win when you hardly ever get across midfield.
Hayward's tough to figure out, because he didn't play like this in his final couple seasons with the Packers. So I can't say for sure whether they used him wrong or whether the Packers letting him walk served as a big motivator for him. He might be a little better suited for a zone-oriented scheme, but the scout I talked to yesterday said Hayward looked just as good in man as zone in the video he watched. Even if the coaches could have used him better, it's evident he should have been re-signed because you have to have depth at cornerback to compete in this league. Hyde clearly wasn't playing in his best position, so that's definitely on Capers and the defensive coaching staff.
I agree that the pass rush is a big, big issue. A good rush is like good shooting in basketball, it covers up a lot of weaknesses. I don't agree as much on the receivers. Technique and all those things are important, but you have to be able to run also, and the Packers don't have a dynamic receiving corps by NFL standards.
ACL's in football are generally a 10- to 11-month recovery, especially for big guys like O-linemen. Bulaga will hit the 10-month mark in mid-September, so his recovery will have to be slightly faster than the norm to have him playing football by the start of the regular season. Looks to me like there's a pretty decent chance he'll start the season on PUP, which means he'd end up missing basically the first half of the season. Maybe he'll make it back fast enough to avoid that, but outside looking in my best guess is that he's more likely than not to start the regular season on PUP. That's just a best guess. I'd think Murphy will be ready for the start of all the offseason work. I don't know the details on Brice's ankle injury so not sure if he'll be ready for the start of the offseason program, but I wouldn't think the start of training camp is in question.
Yeah, I'm in your camp, though I'd describe it more as difference makers that intimidating guys. As Capers has said repeatedly over the years, teams need probably three difference makers to play good defense. In 2000 and '10 the Packers had Matthews, Woodson and Nick Collins. All three were outstanding players at that time. Tramon Williams was one of the league's better cornerbacks for a couple years in there too. Then Woodson declined from excellent to very good, and Collins' career ended because of a neck injury, and the Packers haven't played that caliber of defense since. So I'd agree they need difference makers, even if they're not the physically imposing kind like White, though that helps. Kenny Clark could be headed in that direction. Mike Daniels is probably in that category. I don't mean to dismiss the importance of being intimidating on defense, it definitely helps to have some guys with a mean streak. But most intimidating of all is talent and playmaking.
You're right John, it doesn't matter whether I or anyone else agreed with the move at the time, it's on Thompson to get these decisions right, that's his job, and he has the resources and time to study it in a way the rest of us can't. But it is my job to comment on these things and I didn't want to be a hypocrite and not acknowledge what I said at the time they let Hayward go. I don't think you were disputing that but I just wanted to make it clear. Fans should want results, and Thompson should have known what I didn't fully appreciate at the time, you don't let decent cornerbacks walk, they're just too valuable and you need more than three or four to play good defense in today's game. So yeah, that one is definitely on him. I'm going to address the change question in my weekend column so as mentioned earlier will save the rest of my answer for that. But I don't disagree that this organization could use a fire lit beneath it.
Good question and I can't say I have a good answer. I don't know how other teams would handle it. He recovered really quickly from his previous two concussions -- played in the next game both times. Even if he doesn't play this week, it might just be they don't want to expose him in a meaningless game. I'd look at this way: If the Packers think he's recovered well then I'd just do all I could to sign him before the start of free agency. The problem is, once a guy starts taking visits you lose control of the whole thing, and if he's a good player he usually signs with somebody else while on the trip. Teams make the offer and say take it or leave it, and the players usually take it because it's a good offer. So that would be pretty risky to let him test the market unless the Packers have really good reason to be concerned about his future.
No John, I think Gunter was part of the problem. I mean, you have to really admire the guy for how tough he was, a real battler, got every ounce out of his talent. He was impressive that way. But you just can't win with a CB who runs 4..69, that's just a little too slow for this league no matter how tough he is. That's my take.
The questions are legitimate regardless of what the best answer turns out to be. Thompson's early drafts really were outstanding, he was on his way to an incredible drafting record after four or five years. He was unable to sustain that pace. Overall, in my mind he's been a really good GM, competent in the best sense of the word. He has a great temperament for the job. He also has his weaknesses, like all of us. And everyone's time comes, as well.
I don't have a good feel for it. I'd think he'd have some value as multi-position player, but I wouldn't think he'd be a full-time back anymore, the difference between him and the rookies as far as just running-back abilities was pretty stark. He just can't run like they do. So I'd think he'd be more of a receiver next year but with the extra value of being able to line up in the backfield, and be the RB if a couple guys get hurt in a game.
If Capers gets let go, I wonder if they'd wait on the rest of the staff until a new coordinator was hired, so the new guy could retain any of the remaining guys he wanted. If Chicago's staff gets fired, Vic Fangio would be available, but he's a Capers protege, and I don't know if that would be a plus or minus in McCarthy's thinking. People have asked about UW's Jim Leonard in the last couple chats. I still can't think of anyone who's gone from college coordinator straight to NFL coordinator, though it very well might have happened. We probably can't dismiss him as a possibility because he played in the NFL a long time, so he knows the league and NFL defenses and all that. I'm sure there are position coaches from Seattle and Jacksonville and maybe Minnesota who could be possibilities too.
My best guess is they won't want to part with both in the offseason, that they'll want a veteran among that receiving corps as a possible security blanket and fallback for Rodgers. Earlier this year I would have bet Nelson was the guy they'd keep because he can play the slot and is a big target over the middle, and has that great chemistry with Rodgers. But with the way his productivity has dropped off the second half of the season, it's kind of a coin flip. Cobb is younger and faster but also a lot smaller and more injury prone.
The Kenny Clark pick is looking better and better, that's for sure. I think we're all looking at the Hayward and Hyde picks differently, too. The pass rush is a major failing. Outside linebacker is the key position in Capers' defense, and Thompson hasn't put the resources there to sustain it. Compare that with Pittsburgh, which runs the same scheme.
McCarthy always has spoken very highly of him, promoted him at a young age.
Good question. The shareholders have no power because their shares count for next to nothing in the voting process -- all the big shareholders are from the sales in '23, '35 and '49 (or was it '50). And the board members are really honorary positions too. The decision-makers are the executive committee. The new shares of stock are so diluted those votes are worthless. Now, I don't think you can run an NFL franchise like a democracy, and there'd be a big danger of shareholders-fans firing board members left and right, and creating instability in the organization, thus making it a lot less attractive for NFL executives and coaches to work here. But I get your point, the board members and executive committee members are basically appointed by the president and thus as the years go by more and more of them are beholden to him for their positions. So I don't know if there's a good answer to your question. It's up to Murphy and the executive committee to hold football to a high standard, because the Packers have the resources to compete at the highest level.
It's sometimes tough to separate what McCarthy says as a message to the team from what he really thinks deep down. So judge him more by what he does than what he says. It took an injury to replace Montgomery, so he was slow on the trigger there. I don't think he had a lot of options with regard to Hundley. So there probably was a misevaluation of him in the offseason, but by the time Hundley had to play there weren't other options that were any good, at least in my mind. I think a lot of what he said about Hundley was to instill confidence in Hundley and Hundley's teammates.
Yeah, Cook added an element of speed that really helped the offense, and Bennett didn't have that kind of speed. And the Bennett failure shouldn't turn him off free agency. Sometimes signings don't work out. They structured the contract well, so it was basically a one-year deal with a team option the next two seasons. Those kinds of signings are worth the risk.
The Shula example is a great one. I remember Bernie Lincicome fo the Chicago Tribune writing about all the Dolphins issues in one of Shula's last seasons as coach and saying something like, "These things wouldn't be happening if Don Shula were still the coach." What a great line and goes right to your point, Shula was not the same guy by that point. There's a fine line to walk between stability and the danger of people getting overly comfortable. One of the Steelers' great strengths is the stability at coach and GM for the last 45 or so years. But they have to keep an eye on getting too comfortable too. Belichick must have an internal drive that is a cut above the rest, because he's avoided getting comfortable. Lombardi obviously did also, probably at the cost of his own health. That's why they're the two best ever. So the point you bring up is something Murphy, Thompson and McCarthy all have to recognize. The danger is very real.
It very well might be, but why not bring him back for the offseason and camp? It doesn't cost you anything, and he has picked up really valuable playing experience. Unless there's a veteran available in free agency that they think is better.
From what I can tell he's highly respected. But he's also 67. So I don't know if he'd get another DC job or not. There are other possibilities, such as a sort of coaching consultant role.
ILB is a strange, almost no-man's land position in today's NFL. You need them to stop the run, but this is a passing league, and the best QBs in the league always find a way to exploit those ILBs in the passing game, even the really good ones like Wagner and Kuechley can be exploited by the Bradys and Breeses and Rodgers of the NFL. It's just almost impossible for 240-pound guys, no matter how athletic, to match up with running backs and the really fast TEs in the game if the QB is top notch. So that's kind of a macro answer to your question. The sub-packages -- and everyone plays them, not just Capers -- are such a big part of the game that it's de-emphasized ILB. I still think we're going to see more and more glorified safeties playing in there, but that again leaves the defense more vulnerable to the run.
It will be hard to do in one draft, even with 12 picks (their own seven picks, a seventh-rounder from a trade with Buffalo, and an expected four compensatory picks). But if they use free agency too, they can go a long way toward addressing all of them. Will they use free agency, though?
I don't know that they'll extend him, but I could them re-signing him in the offseason to a short-term deal, maybe even let him test the market first if he doesn't like their initial offer.
I would think so, but I thought they would the last two years, too. I don't see how they can't pick a pass rusher with at least one of their top two picks, and I'd think there's a really good chance it will be with their first-rounder.
I'd think if he gets an offer from a franchise where he thinks he can win, he'd take it. How could he not? The Packers haven't promised him anything.
Yeah, I though the defense was fine. The Vikings did play it conservatively, but they also have a limited QB -- I know his stats, but he's still a limited guy. They made some good plays in the red zone -- Pipkins tackle on third-and-goal from the 2, for instance -- that kept points off the board. So yeah, I thought the defense played well enough to win.
I'm going to have to cut this off here, other duties to get to. But a lot of good and pointed questions, so thanks for taking the time. These chats continue throughout the offseason, so we'll be back again next week. If I didn't get to yours -- there were far too many for me to even read them all -- try again next week. You can submit questions a day ahead of time as well, and those are the first ones I see when I start up the chat. This is a huge draft because he's going to be picking higher than usual and has all those picks (it sure looks like at least one of the compensatory picks is doing to be a third-rounder, for Lang). The Packers need some immediate help from this draft, especially on defense, and most especially at pass rusher. Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Enjoy hearing from all of you. Happy New Year and take care.