Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Submit your questions for Pete's weekly chat at noon Thursday.

    Hi Pete,

    Do you think the Packers management jumped the gun a bit hiring LaFleur so quickly? After watching the Patriots in the playoffs, I’m wondering if it might have been wise to wait and make an offer the MacDaniels. I know their success is also because of Brady and Belichik, but they just seem to be so smart on offense that it gives me second thoughts.
    Hi everybody, let's dig in. I know some/a lot of people think they jumped the gun, and it wouldn't have hurt to do a second round of interviews. But if they felt strongly about LaFleur, I don't see any reason to wait. Get him in place and started on putting together a staff. The dominoes fell really fast after that. Now, I say that in a general sense. As for whether they should have hired McDaniels, I don't think anything that's happened in the playoffs would change anyone's thinking on him, they knew before then that he's an excellent offensive coach. I think the questions on him were whether he'd learned from his experience as Denver's coach and would be less of a guy who thought he had all the answers than he was then, or whether that's just who he is, and also whether he'd be OK not having final say over personnel, which he had in Denver. But very much agreed, the Patriots are very smart on offense (and defense too).
    Hi Pete, from your homework on the new head coach, will LeFleur's offense look more like Shanahan's or McVay's and (assuming the packers Draft a Edge Rusher with their first pick,) how might this effect what position the packers take with their late first round or 2nd round pick to fit the need of LeFleur's new offense to come ?
    I'm thinking a little more like Shanahan's based in part on the hiring of the offensive line coach, who was Shanahan's assistant O-line coach at San Francisco. But some of it will be based on personnel too, the Packers' personnel is different than the 49ers', which was different than what LaFleur had at Tennessee last season. As for those high draft picks, they're really up for grabs. Besides edge rusher, there's tackle, tight end, I wouldn't rule out running back or safety depending on what they do in free agency.
    I'm curious how you think Ron Zook survived the purge when Murphy decided to let McCarthy go. I'd assumed McCarthy protected Zook a year ago when other assistants (Capers) were fired. The Packers have about 20 assistants on staff and giving the job a month ago to someone else couldn't have made it any worse and I would think one of the young assistants would have loved the chance even if it was only short term. Thoughts?
    I think Murphy was leaving the assistant coaching staff up to the new coach. He fired only McCarthy, and the new coach would decide which assistants would stay and go. I think everybody knew Zook was going to get fired, but all those decisions were for the new guy.
    Are the packers considered cheap when it comes to paying assistants I'm thinking of their inability to sign the special teams coach they really wanted
    I don't think so. I think Capers was one of the higher-paid D-coordinators in the league. I don't think the Packers are known for paying really, really well, but I don't think they're known as cheapskates with assistants either.
    Hey Pete, what is the status on the special teams coach search, who has interviewed? Also, any chance Rizzi and the Packers will reconsider?
    I think the only other confirmed interview was Mallory of Jacksonville. Not sure what's going on with Rizzi. My first thought was maybe he's got an offer from Flores to go back to Miami -- Flores hire can't be official until after the SB -- but I was talking for an agent for coaches yesterday, and he made a good point that Rizzi interviewed for the head coaching job, and it's kind of hard for guys to go back to their team if they interviewed for the head coaching job and didn't get it. Maybe he'll be back in play for the Packers.
    Pete:

    Why not let the NFL “play” the Pro Bowl game using the Madden video game. Let the voters decide the players’ programmable “attribute” levels – that should correlate as to why they were voted to the Pro Bowl in the first place. The league could run a contest to find two people who would then actually “play” the game – in Hawaii or wherever – and the NFL players could congregate there, too.

    The NFL gets to hype an otherwise meaningless game and might even attract a whole new level of fans from the video game sub-culture. The Madden game will also benefit from the exposure – I’m sure the NFL gets its piece of thi$. No player is exposed to injury. Even the old guard of NFL fan enjoy seeing a real fake game. Thanks for your thoughts.
    Not a bad idea. They need to quit playing that game, it just makes no sense, too great a risk of injury in football to get all these top players on the field together for a game that counts for absolutely nothing.
    I know it's early to talk about specific players in free agency but do you get a sense of Gute's philosophy? Will he try to sign a top FA or try and grab two second tier guys, are there certain positions he values or doesn't value that differs from Thompson?
    I'm wondering the same thing myself. This offseason will be telling, because he'll have a lot of money to work worth. Depending on who he cuts and taking into account money for the draft class and a $5 million to $7 million cushion (at least) he'll want to carry into the season, he still will have somewhere around $40M to $50M in money to spend, with no expensive guys to re-sign. I don't know if he'll swing relatively big on a guy or two looking for big impact, or sign a bunch of guys in the middle to lower tiers to build depth and improve incrementally in a lot of areas.
    What was the real issue with ST coach Rizzi? Didn't hit it off with Lafluer? It's odd GB would not shell out for a quality coach given their putrid ST play.
    Sounds like it might have been money, I think he's looking for a high-end contract.
    Do you think it'd be a good idea to trade the 30th pick, move back a few spots, and pick up an extra pick? With the amount of holes on the roster, it might make more sense than packaging the first two and trying to move up unless there was someone Gute just love.
    That could happen. Also wouldn't rule out using it trade up from No. 12 to the top five if there's a guy available they think is special.
    Pete, I'm concerned with some of these coaches the Packers have added, in particular, Hackett and Getsy. I don't know enough about Hackett to judge how good of a coach he is, I do know his father was basically a coaching legend in the west coast offense. Getsy I thought was great when he was here as WR coach and was sorry to see him leave before last season. My concern is the fact that LaFleur has had no prior affiliation to either of these coaches. Doesn't that lead one to believe that the front office is driving these hiring's? and if so, should they not stay in they're lane? Leads me to think the reason LaFleur was hired is he could be easily controlled.
    I could be wrong but that's not my take. I think LaFleur is making all these hires. I don't doubt that he's leaned on Gutekunst for advice when he's had questions/concerns or wanted recommendations. I have to think the Getsy hire was on Gutekunst's recommendation. But from what LaFleur has said, he's going to be heavily involved in coaching the quarterbacks too, so he might have been looking for a good young coach to groom in that spot, and Gutekunst recommended Getsy. I don't know how Hackett got on LaFleur's radar, don't know that Gutekunst has any connections with him, not that I know of. One other point, I was talking with some assistant coaches in the league, and you get different opinions about hiring staff. Coaches of course are going to be inclined to hire guys they've worked with, because they know their work, and those coaches will know the system they want to implement. But a couple of the assistants also said it's a good idea to bring in a few guys you don't necessarily know well if it all as long as you have reason to think they're good coaches. Bring in outside perspectives, etc. I could be wrong, but I haven't heard anything yet to suggest LaFleur isn't making the hires on his own volition.
    Free agency can often be a slippery slope whether your spending on your own or someone else's. Not a lot of examples of players overplaying their contract but plenty of underplaying just on the Packers alone. The Packers may have close to $50 million in cap space but other teams having more and at least 2 with twice that much, expensive can turn into crazy quickly. How do you rate Gute in his 1st year of FA and what lessons will he carry into this year? Caveat emptor.
    There are still bargains to be had, or at least getting your money's worth. I thought they got their money's worth out of Tramon Williams, for instance. I could see signing a couple offensive linemen in the $2.5 million to $5 million range, for instance, to help there. Same for safety. Gutekunst's first FA class was only OK at best but I don't think he did anything reckless or stupid. Wilkerson was a relatively cheap signing with a potential big payoff. It didn't work out -- he was playing only OK even before his season-ending ankle injury -- but I thought it was a smart signing. Graham was a little risky but I understood why he did it. Didn't work out very well, and that really hurt the offense this year, but it didn't hamstring the cap for future years. Williams was a good signing. I guess Byron Bell was OK, but they need to upgrade that right guard spot. I'd give Gutekunst maybe a C for those decisions.
    For the record I just don't see the Packers cutting Balaga (just to thin at tackle) but my question is do you see Graham or Perry on the roster in April? There would be cap savings but both would represent substantial dead money hits.
    As I've said on here before, I'd cut Graham, Perry and Bulaga. I get your point about being thin on the OL, but I'm not convinced Bulaga's body is going to hold up for a season, he's had a back issue now to go with the previous serious knee and hip injuries he's had. He was a good player for them but his body is just breaking down, so I think the money could be better spent. I don't know what the Packers are thinking. Perry looks like a no-brainer to cut, he just can't stay healthy at all. I don't know if they'll ask Graham to take a pay cut, or whether he would, but how can they justify paying him $9M in salary and bonuses next season? He's just not dynamic enough. I'd move on and start over at that position if I were them. If they cut Graham they save $5.3M on the cap, and if they cut Bulaga they gain $6.6M on the cap. Yes, there's dead money also, but so what if they save cap money? Don't throw good money after bad. My guess is they'll cut Graham but that's just a guess and I'd think will depend in part on what LaFleur thinks.
    Hi Pete, assuming the Packers cut ties with Cobb, think there is anyone that's a better fit in the slot than Packer nemesis Golden Tate? Never misses games, excellent YAC guy, and has placed a priority on playing for a winner so might be a good target for a short term deal at a slight discount (GB not there now but great potential to make a significant jump).
    Tate is a good slot guy. He's 30, so not young, that run-after-the-catch could start declining soon, I'd worry about that. Don't know that he'd take a discount from anybody, he'll want to go where he can play and thrive and make good money. I saw where Cole Beasley is available, if he can be had at a decent price I could see them making a run at him. They do need a traditional small-quick slot guy.
    Pete,

    May I respectfully disagree?

    Weeks ago, you mentioned the signing of LeVeon Bell.

    I don't think that's a good idea.

    (1) He's a "whiff" away from being a repeat offender -- and a long suspension.

    (2) He's (much) too vocal -- and seems like a team cancer.

    (3) The Packers oLine is not quite as robust as the Steelers -- so I don't think his stellar numbers would map to his new team.

    (4) It would be so expensive -- and he seems like a player that might coast after a big payday.

    Adding a quality runner is a great idea, but I don't think this is the guy.
    All those things are true Slacker, no question. I don't blame anyone for having reservations or thinking they shouldn't do it. There's also the issue of running backs to a large degree being interchangeable in this league, easier to find than a lot of positions. But I still think Bell has to be on the table for the Packers. He's a special back with the added value of being excellent in the passing game, so a great fit for the offense and Rodgers. I think those top few backs are worth more than the other good backs. Just think how much worse off Dallas would be, for instance, without Elliott. And if the Packers signed Bell, they wouldn't have to draft an RB. If they don't sign him or someone else, they will have to draft one, because Jones' health is just too unreliable, and while Williams is the kind of guy you definitely want on your team, he's got his limitations as a runner. Bell turns 27 next month, so I'm thinking he's got two really good seasons left in him. So I'd look hard into signing him with that in mind. Of course it depends on whether LaFleur wants him and could make him use of him -- I'd think he could put him to great use, he was with the Rams two years ago and saw what Gurley does for that offense when he's healthy. No idea if Gutekunst is entertaining this idea, though.
    Hi Pete-
    Just your quick take on J'Mon Moore "athleticism" compared to VDS and St. Brown. Highlights of him coming out of college reminded me a little of Davante and Greg Jennings as far as cutting and changing direction. Can't wait to see him fulfill his potential. Thanks Pete.
    Moore's straight-line speed isn't very good -- he ran 4.60 at the combine -- but he does look athletic making cuts and accelerating. I'm just not sure he catches the ball well enough to do much in this league.
    Hi Pete, thanks for your continued weekly chats. How concerning is it that Lafleur’s offensive hires are so young - Stenavich and Outten ? Together they have about 5 years experience
    Glad you asked, because I have a column on Stenavich that will be posting later this afternoon. I raise the same question, because Stenavich has one of the most important jobs on the staff, coaching the offensive line. His NFL coaching experience consists of two years as SF's assistant OL coach. LaFleur hired him because he knows the scheme well from working with the 49ers -- LaFleur's scheme is basically the same as Shanahan's. But Stenavich's experience is pretty thin for such an important job. He was in the NFL for five years going to training camps and spending parts of seasons on the practice squads in Green Bay, Dallas and Houston, but he never played in an NFL game. He coached in college for five years (three as an OL coach) before going to SF. LaFleur should hire whoever he wants, but I'd be concerned about Stenavich's inexperience, because he's got a big job protecting Rodgers and having to make all these in-game adjustments against unexpected bllitzes and defensive looks and with injuries to OL, which are common.
    Pete, what is you best guess as to how the locker room receives and responds to all of the youth on the coaching staff? Do you think the team's leadership and how they interact with the coaches is going to be extra important this year?
    That's a good question. It should or at least could be invigorating, there will be all these young, hungry coaches, starting with the head coach, running meetings and coaching on the field. I'd think the players will like that, and younger coaches probably will have an easier time connecting with players, the age and generation gap is much smaller, so they'll have more in common. But they'll have to know what they're talking about or doing, or the players will figure out pretty quickly that they don't. Credibility with the players is huge. The players have to think their coaches are helping them play better.
    Hey Pete-
    I think we will rue the day that we didn't hire McDaniels and don't care about pulling back on the Colts at all. I'm sure the assistants found other jobs and were not in the soup line. Did it work out crappy? Yes. Did it make him the scum of the earth? Not at all.

    Now the question! Who were your top targets as coach?
    I've gotten the sense that the Indy thing wasn't an issue with the Packers. It was more about what I said earlier, whether he still had the mentality that he has all the answers, which was his biggest problem in Denver. I was just guessing like everybody else, but I thought before the hire that McDaniels was the most likely pick, followed by Gase and LaFleur (just so you don't accuse me of saying this after the fact, those are the only three candidates I wrote columns about). I've heard they liked Monken and Campbell too.
    Hi Pete. Any news about rodgers injury or if he needs some type of surgery?
    No. I had a long interview with Gutekunst last week and asked, and he wouldn't comment on any injuries.
    Hi Pete-
    Brady stands really tall in the pocket. It sure looks like we need at least one and maybe two good guards. What's your take on that?
    Agreed. Now, Taylor did have surgery on his ankle last offseason that sidelined him for all the offseason stuff and very well might have affected his play this year. He definitely did not play as well as he had the previous two years. But the point you make is one Eric Baranczyk (he of the weekly column we co-author during the season based on the previous game's video) has been making with me all offseason. They need to be much better at guard to protect the QB.
    Can you please explain how the Patriots passing attack works so well? Their wrs are no better than GB’s, but Brady gets the ball out quickly and seems to have no trouble finding open targets.
    Why is that such a struggle for GB?
    I can't tell you why it works better, I can only agree that yes, they appear to have no problem getting guys open. If it were easy enough for me to explain I'd assume more teams would do it their way. Of course, their quarterback is unbelievable also.
    As the Packers continue to add assistant coaches, most fans (me included), really don't have anything to go on but the name of the hire. How do you think they are doing in building a quality staff? Thank you.
    To a large degree it's the same for me. Hackett has a lot of experience for a guy his age (39). I've already talked about the concerns with Stenavich. The special teams coach hire will be really big. Pettine we all saw last year, I thought he did a good job with what he had. Outten, the new TE coach, is really inexperienced so not much to go on there. LaFleur worked with him in Atlanta a couple years ago. Getsy was here before, and guessing the reasons for hiring him to coach QBs (he was WRs coach before he left to be a college OC) were because they thought he and Rodgers already liked and respected each other, and LaFleur was looking for a young coach to develop in his offense, and Gutekunst recommended him, that's my guess.
    I would think based on his title that Hendrickson will rank No. 2 on the football chart, behind only Gutekunst, and be Gutekunst's right-hand man.
    I am going to be a little cautious on the rushing production some of these media members are boasting about LaFleur / Hackett. Recently LaFleur had Mariota as his QB and Hackett had the wonderful Blake Bortles. Higher than average rushing numbers were almost a must by default. If this defense doesn't get fixed, the Packers will be playing from behind and the "Oh please Rodgers fix everything" strategy might be back in play.
    Agreed. Hackett had Fournette, who was great in '17 but apparently came in way out of shape in '18. LaFleur had to run because Mariota's arm was compromised (nerve injury), and he had a good back in Henry. Been a lot of talk over the years about running the ball more here. We'd all be wise to believe it when we see it.
    How does the new director of football operations fit into the organization structure?
    This was the question for the answer about Hendrickson. Here is the answer again: 
     
    I would think based on his title that Hendrickson will rank No. 2 on the football chart, behind only Gutekunst, and be Gutekunst's right-hand man.
    I get the introductory presser was the Murphy show and he did the hiring, but doesn't the LaFleur hire feel more like a Gutekunst hire? Not on any other teams radar, not a big name and had to come from Gutekunst list of coaching prospects. For all the fears of Murphy being Jerry Jones, I feel like he is letting our GM control more than what the fans think.
    I'm going to have to cut this off here, prefer to go a little longer but have some other things I have to do today, so my apologies. Thanks for coming by and taking the time to ask questions and share thoughts. As always, if I didn't get to yours -- there were way to many to address them all -- try again next week. As for this question, it sure looks to me like this was Murphy's hire all the way. Now, Murphy basically said after firing McCarthy that he wouldn't hire someone Gutekunst wasn't OK with, and it sure looks like Gutekunst was heavily involved in the vetting and interviewing. But this process was driven by Murphy, and he made the hire. With that, we have to call it a chat. Thanks again everyone, look forward to talking again next week. Until then, take care.
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