Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Dec. 5 transcript.

    Hi Pete!
    This is just my my opinion, but I believe the Packers blew it when they gave Rodgers THE big contract. They could have had him under team control 4 years, through his 39th birthday at a lot less money. The organization would have had more money to sign other free agent players. Just a poor business decision to put all your eggs in one basket. Maybe the problem
    is up above.
    I've been thinking about this, and I still don't know how they could have not done a contract extension with him. If they weren't going to sign him long term they'd have had to trade him. Look at how his unhappiness with McCarthy affected this season, just imagine how it would have been if he was unhappy about his contract. That wasn't going to work. So they would have had to trade him. Now, I'm sure some people out there are saying they should have traded him. Were they saying that before this season (remember the deal was done before the season started), or basing that only on how this season went? What if he returns to playing like an MVP next year? Then it's completely worth the money.
    Hey Pete - Love your work. Long question here. Have you seen Dan Orlovsky's breakdown of a play the Packers ran Sunday against Ariz. He references failure to exectue the detail as the reason for the throw away by Rodgers. Not blaming Rodgers but instead talking about Jimmy Grahams poor route which led to a CB who should have been exploited being able to cover two guys at once, which forced Rodgers out of Read 1 and 2 and by the time he resets he either is getting sacked or has to throw away. We as fans get frustrated with Rodgers for seemingly holding the ball too long, and I think there is some of that. but on a play like that where Graham clearly doesnt run a good route, is that on Graham, the WR/TE coach, the Offense in general? I have said it for the past few years, that there are often times when plays breakdown and theres a throw away, that WRS seems to be congested on the field. Will there be more effort to run routes or structure patterns to isolate and get clear looks on the field like many other innovative teams have done under Philbin the last four weeks or under the new coach?
    I did see that, and I don't doubt that there are plenty of plays where bad routes like that make things really tough on Rodgers. There are also examples of guys being open underneath and Rodgers not seeing them, and of Rodgers missing throws, and guys dropping passes, and bad play calls. It all adds up to a bad season.I'll be curious to see if the offense looks any different with Philbin in charge starting this week. The game that will really be interesting is at Chicago, where they'll be facing a really good defense.
    Hey Pete. Tell me there's no way Philbin gets this job regardless of the next 4 games. Isn't he the exact opposite of what the Packers should be looking for in their next head coach?
    I don't know how seriously they'll consider him, but Murphy said he is a candidate. What if his chemistry with Rodgers looks really good over the next month? Then you'd have to look at him seriously. If I'm the Packers I'd much prefer to hire a head coach with an offensive background, but I wouldn't absolutely lock into it. If the best leader and best guy has a defensive background, then you go that way. Maybe if Philbin-Rodgers seems to be working pretty well and they hire a defensive coach, they'd keep Philbin as offensive coordinator. This thing is just really wide open, at least outside looking in. Maybe they already have a pretty good idea of what they're going to do, I can't say. But I wouldn't bet a nickel on any particular candidate right now.
    Hey Pete. We know TT’s last few drafts were poor. And that MM and 12!had issues manifesting in the poor 2018 season. And Murphy oversaw the lot. On a basis of 100%, what percentage would you assign to each of these four for the poor team showing thus far this season?
    As I'm sure you know, we're all just guessing on these things, a lot of moving parts. I think the Rodgers-McCarthy disconnect was the biggest problem, that just got worse over the years and boiled over this year. In '16 their talent was no better than it is now yet they went on that run to the NFC title game because Rodgers played great. So that's the key. Thompson's last few drafts were thin, no question, they just didn't have enough decent and good players, but I don't think that's as big a factor. Murphy is ultimately responsible, and in hindsight he waited probably two years too long to part with Thompson. But I'd say the Rodgers-McCarthy disconnect was the main issue.
    Hi Pete,always enjoy your articles.Just saw that Winton Moss doesn't feel Rogers is accountable I tend to agree look how he acts on the field his eyes are looking up so much you would think he has relatives on the international spacestation?What do you think of the idea the Packers should have done the samething Banch Ricky would have done first waited and not given him the money traded him if possible inside the division heck if the Bears gave up two draft choices for Mack what would they have gave up for Rogers or trade him to any of the other teams?He just seems to think about himself to much and doesn't adjust to the other players around him?I think your a quarterback guy which I understand but is it any easier to find a superbowl winning coach 133 wins isn't an accident?Thanks Pete just a thought.
    This goes back to the first question, and I can see why people are bringing it up. Rodgers had a bad season, and right now his future isn't looking so hot. A couple of people I know in football who I respect have real questions about whether he'll return to the player he was earlier in his career. I still find it a little hard to believe he's just an average quarterback at age 35, that just doesn't jibe with the way the game is going with really talented quarterbacks as they get older. Favre, Brady, Brees all played or are playing well in their late 30s to really early 40s. Manning hit the wall but that's because his neck injury robbed him of his arm strength. I don't think Rodgers' injuries have affected him in that way. So I still think that if things click with the next coach Rodgers will be a top player. Maybe I'm wrong and that for whatever reason his decline is here, either because teams have figured out how to play him, or something physical or mental, or temperamental or whatever. But I still find it a little hard to believe a guy with that much talent can't still play at a high level at his age in the right environment. I do think it's harder to find a really talented and good quarterback than a good coach.
    Was it a mistake to think that Cobb and Allison were your #2 & #3 WR's heading into the season? We know they tried to sign Robinson and Watkins, which tells you they think they are NOT explosive enough at the position. I am baffled they thought Cobb could stay healthy at this point, and Geronimo is just a guy. MVS and ESB have shown potential, but are obviously green. Even with adding TE Graham, the level of pass catching talent has dropped of significantly the last few years.
    Yeah, I thought they put too much into Cobb, he was just so beaten up -- that's what happens to smaller receivers -- and he's a small target who lacks catch radius. I know McCarthy really liked him because of his toughness, and when plays break down he's pretty good at coming free and giving Rodgers someone to throw to. But there were some limitations there too because of his size and what all his injuries had taken out of him, and that was borne out with his injuries this year. I have to say I still like Allison. Not saying he's a Pro Bowler or anything, but he has good size and had a good chemistry with Rodgers even as an undrafted rookie. With Adams, him, MVS and ESB the Packers have some talent at receiver for the next two or three years. Graham just is kinda hitting the wall, he's lost quickness and athleticism. They badly  need a young tight end.
    This season and the demise of MM are/will be a big hit on Aaron Rogers legacy. How will these next 4 games affect how that plays out? Do you think how this team and Rogers finish these 4 games will have an affect on the attractiveness of the job for perspective coaches?
    I'm as curious as you to see how the rest of the season goes, but I don't think the finish will have much influence on how attractive the job is. Whatever a candidate's opinion on that is now I doubt will change over the next month. At this point the candidates probably have their opinions on Rodgers and the resources available in GB, and the GM and CEO they'd be working with. But I'm curious to see how Rodgers plays to finish out, and how a couple guys like Tonyan and Donnerson play, assuming they get more playing time now that the playoffs are basically out.
    Two questions re these last four gsmes:

    Q1: What does it mean if AR plays poorly?

    Q2: What does it mean if he plays well?
    I'm not sure we can say for sure, the context will matter too. But I'd think if Rodgers plays well it would have to help Philbin's chances of getting the job or at least staying on if the next coach has a defensive background. If nothing changes, that probably would hurt Philbin's chances. We'll have to see what Rodgers' demeanor is, too. Does that change now that there's no longer the tension with McCarthy?
    Pete I have watched so many of the other QB's and they all run down the field and grab the guy that just made a TD but Arron just does his arm thing and goes back to the bench nothing else so why is there not a pat on the back like Brees does. There ias no excitement from the team, just nothing so much is missing. Your thoughts???
    I wonder about that. I think I recently saw Mayfield throw a TD pass and just go straight to the sideline, for whatever that's worth. I do agree a joie de vivre missing has been missing this season, very much including and probably starting with Rodgers.
    Hi Pete. I don't get the beat writers obsession with the power structure of the Packers organization. I get that it was highly successful when Harlan implemented it, but it has failed recently. Thompson was kept in power at least 2 years longer than he should have been. Plus, when Harlan instituted it, he wasn't in charge of a company w/ almost $500 million in revenue. What CEO of a company that size would be so hands off with such a critical part of a company? Just let the guy hire a coach and if it fails, then you can say I told you so.
    You're right that the Packers as a company have changed and keep getting bigger, but to be fair they were already getting pretty big before Harlan stepped down. Look, every structure has its weaknesses, there's no such thing as a perfect structure, and a lot of teams have a system similar to the Packers' now. But the strength of the previous structure was that it took a lot of interpersonal politics out of it. The GM calls the shots, and if the team does well he continues to run things. If it's not doing well then the CEO fires him and brings in somebody else. The accountability and chain of command are crystal clear. There's no back-door politics going on, with the coach going to the owner (or in this case CEO) and saying the GM is failing him, or vice versa, or the cap guy blaming the GM, or the GM blaming the cap guy. That set up opens the door to those kind of machinations and manipulations in one-on-one relations. I don't doubt Murphy when he says he has great relationships with the principals, but relationships among that group can change, and the previous setup protected against that. I'd argue that it wasn't the power structure that failed them with Thompson staying on too long, it was that Murphy wasn't as attuned to how things were going with Thompson as he should have been. As for hiring the coach, I'd rather have a guy who's been working all football for the past 20 years (Gutekunst) make the hire than someone who has a football background  but has been working mostly in administration, as Murphy has. It doesn't mean Murphy won't hire a good coach, he very well might. It's just that the previous setup had served this franchise so well for 25-plus years, I wouldn't have deviated from it.
    Pete, Mark Murphy was going to hire Russ Ball to be the GM before MM changed his mind. So how can we trust Murphy will pick the right coach? One of McCarthy's downfalls was hiring friends instead of the best coaches. Will Murphy avoid this pitfall or put the Pack back into the 1980's?
    This is all just a big unknown. Murphy hasn't hired a coach before, so we don't have anything to base our guesses on. He wouldn't say whether he's bringing in a consultant, but I have to assume that Jed Hughes/Korn-Ferry will be involved, as he/it were in Murphy's GM search last January. Like I said earlier, I wouldn't bet a nickel on any candidate at this point. This is wide open.
    Pete, how much blame does TT deserve for the current state of the Packers? His last 3 or 4 drafts were terrible. Do you agree? Why is he still a consultant with the team?
    Those drafts without question lacked the quality of his early drafts. He hit on a couple very good players -- Kenny Clark, Davante Adams, Lacy for a couple years, and Aaron Jones looks like a pretty good player -- but yeah, a few too many misses in there. He needed to use free agency a little more, almost as a second draft, take some calculated shots at guys and hope a couple pan out to at least fill in the weakest spots on the roster. That might win you a game here or there. Some of the responsibility is his. I don't know how you apportion it among the primary figures. As I said earlier, I'd say the Rodgers-McCarthy disconnect is the biggest factor in this year's performance.
    The Packers have more needs than one off-season can fix. Four straight lousy TT drafts dug a deep hole. It's reasonable to expect improvement next season, but all the needs won't be filled. Which needs would you prioritize and try to address first?
    Agree completely all holes can't be filled in one offseason. But you have to remember, every team has holes. The days of complete teams are long, long past, you have to go back to the Jimmy Johnson Cowboys of the early '90s for that. So I'd still argue -- and this goes for a lot of teams -- that one really good offseason could change everything. I keep saying this in these chats, but I'll say it again, look at the Saints. They were 7-9 three straight years, then last year they hit big in the draft and instantly became a bona fide Super Bowl contender. I'm not saying that's easy to do, but it doesn't take a miracle, either. As for the draft/free agency priorities, I'd put them like this: pass rusher (prefer outside but if there's an Aaron Donald out there, by all means), followed by TE and safety, right tackle and guard. That's a lot, you're right on that.

    If Brian Gutenkunst turns out to be a highly successful GM and if there is a successful choice for head coach then all of us will have positive feelings about Mark Murphy. If Ron Wolf would’ve been successful in hiring his first choice of Bill Parcells rather than Mike Holmgren and if Brett Favre wouldn’t have gotten the tough love coaching of Holmgren then Wolf would have been the proverbial fart in the wind. That’s what is called putting things in perspective
    Do you think Murphy will insist that Pettine stays as DC in interviews for head coaches ?
    He didn't answer that question, so I can't say for sure. I'd say the defense has shown improvement over the season as Pettine has gotten to know his personnel, so if the new coach has an offensive background I'd think Murphy would at least recommend sticking with Pettine, I'd say the early returns on him are pretty good. I don't know that they would insist on it. My guess is they wouldn't, but I don't know that. If the new coach had a D background, I'd think he'd want to run his own system.
    will the run and pass game coordinators likely take on some of Philibin's OC duties these last 4 weeks ?
    I would think so. I don't know if Philbin provided any details on that in his press conference today, but my best guess would be that Hostler would become the de factor offensive coordinator (he was passing game coordinator).
    Hey Pete. I'm in the camp that believes although it was probably time for McCarthy to go, he was also the scapegoat for a lot of issues. One such issue is Aaron Rodgers' poor play. Two questions: (1) Are you hearing that the report Rodgers often changed McCarthy's calls at the line is true? If so, is there any sense for if the plays Rodgers changed too worked?; and (2) Seems like Rodgers gets sacked or misses long balls often because he refuses to throw check-down passes. Truth or misperception?
    I've heard that Rodgers was changing a lot of plays, I've also heard that he and McCarthy would talk about the plays Rodgers liked in setting up the game plan, and then McCarthy wouldn't call them. It depends on who you talk to. There's just no way to know how many plays Rodgers is changing, and how it worked out, unless you're in the meetings and on the field. Agreed he's been getting sacked too much and holding onto the ball rather than making quick decisions. Part of what has made him special is making plays outside the pocket, but that can't be the basis of the offense. Agreed it looks like he's passed up some open checkdowns on key plays this season.
    Pete, I live down here in Jerry Jones area, I am worried about Mark Murphy emulating Jerry with Gutey not being able to do his job in what’s best for the Packers, should we be worried?
    Murphy definitely has decided he wants to be more involved in football and that he knows enough about the game and the NFL to do a good job of it. I dbout he has Jones' ego -- who does? -- and I haven't gotten the sense he's involved in day-to-day decisions, roster stuff, anything like that, as Jones does. I'm not saying 100 percent sure he hasn't done any of that, but if he has I haven't heard about it from anybody I trust. I've already said I'd make Gutekunst the full-blown GM and have him hire the coach. Murphy is really putting himself on the line in choosing the new coach. If I were the Packers I'd prefer having a full-time football guy hiring the coach. But Murphy is doing it, and we'll just have to wait and see how it works out.
    I’ve seen several people say Murphy needs to hire an offensive coach. What is the logic against hiring a guy like Vic Fangio and then an OC like Kingsbury who maybe isn’t ready to have the head job but is ready for an NFL OC role?
    I'd lean heavily for going offense because of the importance of the QB position in general and Rodgers in particular, getting him back on track. I'd prefer having the expert in that also sitting in the captain's chair. But as you're suggesting, Murphy should keep his mind open to all possibilities. If they find someone (such as Fazio) who think is a great leader and can run the team really well, they have to strongly consider him. I guess the biggest problem with going that route in my mind is, if the team does well, you could quickly lose that OC to a head-coaching job. Then you have to find someone equally good to replace him. Whereas if the head coach is running the offense and things go well, he's not going anywhere.
    Philbin is calling plays. What do you expect to be different from McCarthy?
    Eric Baranczyk and I wrote about that for today. We're curious to see if changes the rhythm of the passing game to more quicker-hitting stuff. Or if maybe he mixes in some true uptempo no-huddle, like NE did against the Packers a few weeks ago.
    Hi Pete,

    Interesting week to be a Packer fan, to be sure. My question is: In your estimation, do you think Gutekunst is more likely to target a certain player in the 2019 draft that could be an immediate difference maker by packaging picks and trading up, and if so, who might two or three of those players be?
    That's certainly what I'm wondering, and I don't have an answer from you. If there's a guy (especially a pass rusher) in the top five he can get and thinks is special, he should go get him, I don't know enough about the prospects to say who might be worth it. I was looking at a mock first-round yesterday, and there were a few rushers fairly high, but I haven't heard at least at this point that any of them looks like he might be a truly special talent. We'll hear a lot more about in January and February with the Senior Bowl and the Scouting Combine.
    Good morning Mr. Pete. Anecdotal evidence seems to show that a team comes out re-engerized and ready to play the game after a HC is let go. Do you expect this Packers team will play some of their most inspired football of the season?
    Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if they come out loose and play well, a lot of the weight probably will be lifted from the players.
    Pete, do you believe Bruce Arians when he says he would only talk to Cleveland and not to Green Bay ?
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