OK, let's get started. I'm wondering the same thing and suspect that's got to be at least part of it. Last week, and our Tom Silverstein pointed out in his postgame column, the Packers started out great and their game plan worked really well. But then Minnesota made some adjustments and the Packers didn't figure out a way to beat the adjustments. So that has to be a factor, that McCarthy and Philbin and Rodgers didn't make good adjustments on the fly.
It's tough to know how those things actually work unless you're in on all the meetings. It's McCarthy's offense and he calls the plays, so the final responsibility is his. You never know whose advice he's relying most on. I really thought Philbin would make a difference as a trusted voice, someone who could disagree with McCarthy and have the credibility that McCarthy would seriously listen. I don't know if that's happening or not. It is important for the coaching staff to have a consistent message with the quarterback, but I don't know if he's being told different things by different people. Rodgers was really unhappy that McCarthy in effect fired Alex Van Pelt last offseason, he made that clear in his public statements.
Maybe it's had some effect, but it's up to him and the coaches to make this work. Did you see New Orleans last week? The Saints had four guys catch the first touchdown pass of their career in their game last Thursday. They've been hit hard by injuries at receiver yet keep piling up the points with all these young WRs and tight ends. So I think the argument about the young receivers carries limited weight.
I would think Kumerow will get on the field pretty soon, maybe even this week. Especially if Davis (hamstring) is out. If they get eliminated from the playoffs I'd think they'd play some younger guys more, though I don't know if they'd completely sit starters. But that wouldn't happen until they were mathematically eliminated.
Cobb and Matthews are in the last year of their contracts, so there's no money saved. According to Over The Cap, cutting Perry would save about $3.3M -- he's scheduled to make $11M in salary and bonuses, but if they cut him there's also the acceleration of prorated signing bonus that would go onto the '19 cap, thus the $3.3M figure.
It would take a while to go through the roster and figure that out, but I'd think anyone who would land a first and third rounder is someone they wouldn't trade. For instance, I wouldn't consider trading Bakhtiari or Alexander, those guys are part of the solution, not the problem, and are young enough (good LTs can play a fairly long time in this league) to keep if they're doing what you might call a soft rebuild. But just remember, one really good offseason could make a big difference. It's hard to do but can be done. I say this every week, but look at the Saints. 7-9 three straight years, then a great draft in 2018 and they've basically been IMHO the best team in the NFC since '17.
Just judging by some of Rodgers' comments (especially) after the Bills' game and his body language during games when things aren't going well, it's pretty clear he has some issues with McCarthy's scheme and/or play calling. He's not fully buying what McCarthy is selling.
Just before starting the chat I was looking at a list of head-coaching candidates compiled by Dan Graziano of ESPN, and on the surface it wasn't real impressive. Not many names that jump out at you, in fact, really only one, Josh McDaniel, and he has some baggage too after accepting and backing out of the Colts' job last year (and, among other things, hiring coaches on his word, then leaving them hanging out to dry when he changed his mind). But then as I thought about it, name recognition shouldn't necessarily mean that much. Look at all the times that the hot names who've worked for the most successful coaches have failed. Start with several of the guys who worked for Belichick (Weiss, Crennel, McDaniel). Hot name doesn't necessarily equal good head coach. You never know who might pan out. But I get your point.
I actually think they've been pretty healthy most of this year, it's only the last two weeks that the injuries have been a problem. The one exception is that King's injuries have really hurt them. When he and Alexander play together the defense is noticeably better, but they've only played together a couple full games.
This could break a lot of ways, the Packers' remaining schedule is their least challenging stretch of the year. But to go with your assumption, I'd think 6-9-1 would land them a pick around 8, somewhere in there
While I'm sure Gutekunst was a trusted adviser, Thompson was making the picks, and from what I've heard, that wasn't just in name, he was making the picks. You'd have to be in the building to know pick by pick who Gutekunst liked a lot and less so among the guys Thompson picked. Murphy said he had Gutekunst bring in his write-ups of the Packers' last several first-round picks to see how those evaluations squared with the way the players turned out.
I guess my first reaction to that is, what good does it do to fire McCarthy now? When does that ever work in the NFL where a mid- or late-season coaching change turns a team around? Philbin has been a head coach, so they could make him the interim coach, but can't you just as easily argue he's part of the problem? Maybe it would work and help the Packers down the stretch, but I'm skeptical. Football is a business, and coaches find that out every offseason when they get fired -- McCarthy has fired plenty of assistants over the years, for instance, and unless there's a drastic turnaround he could very well get fired this offseason. The question is, would firing him now change the outcome of the season? I doubt it. I will say, did you read Andy Benoit of SI.com's story about McCarthy? Benoit is one of those game-video experts -- much/most of his work is watching game tape, not doing traditional reporting. He was a big McCarthy critic the last couple years in saying he didn't scheme enough to get guys open, relied too much on receivers winning one-on-one battles. But Benoit thinks that as this season has gone on, McCarthy actually has changed a lot and tried new things and been more creative in the scheme. So maybe McCarthy isn't doing the same thing week after week. Maybe it's mostly that the quarterback isn't playing well for a combination of reasons.
From what I heard and have observed, I think Murphy thinks highly of McCarthy and greatly valued his opinion last offseason when all that went down. I think McCarthy did have a fair amount of influence on how things turned out, but with that also came more responsibility for how things turn out this year.
The best QBs are worth their weight in gold. The Saints pay Brees a lot of money, the Patriots pay Brady a lot (though a little below market), San Diego and Rivers, Pittsburgh and Roethlisberger, and all those teams are winning. You're right that the teams with the excellent young QBs on their rookie contracts have an advantage, but that advantage is short-lived, and just look at the difference in the Chiefs with Mahones instead of Alex Smith. Smith was OK but Mahomes already is really good, he does some amazing things, that's the reason they've gone from a good team to one that is among the SB favorites. But what's the alternative? Get rid of these QBs when you have to pay them? They're way, way, way too hard to find to do that. As far as putting a cap on any one player, I just don't see any way the union would agree to that.
I think the point you make at the end is a good one. There is something to throwing guys open, seems like it's a must in today's NFL.
My gut reaction is no, though I can't say for sure. He got the chance to start and played his way off the field, you're right there. But there is a lot to learn at that position. I haven't gotten the sense that he lacks instincts, which you did get a little with Jones last year. He is starting to play a little on obvious passing downs again. But we'll find out next season, after he has a full offseason in the team's program.
Had a few questions about this so thought I'd address it. There's no way they're trading him, but for starters, trading him this offseason would mean a $19.5M cap hit (accelerated signing bonus minus his 2019 salary). That's a prohibitive hit. What could they get? I don't know, three first-rounders? That's just a wild guess. But let's be serious. Quarterbacks are so hard to find, and after Rodgers they might go 25 or 30 years or more without a good one, just like they did between Starr and Favre. Those were long, bleak years. Rodgers isn't playing well, there's no getting around that. But he's still a really, really talented quarterback, and with today's rules, playing well into his early 40s is more than plausible. Their best option isn't trading him, it's finding a way to get him playing like an MVP again.
I think so, I don't want to take the time to look it up, but I think in each of the last two games he's dropped an Aussie kick inside the 10.
Yes, that was a really good column by Tom, and I agree with him 100 percent. The GM and coach have to work hand in glove, and the best way to get that is to let the GM hire his coach, that way he's fully invested in the guy's success.
I'd think they'd have to be 100 percent mathematically eliminated. Even if they lost this weekend I'm pretty sure they wouldn't be mathematically out of it. I don't know if they'd shut down Rodgers unless maybe it was the last game of the season, and even then I'm not sure they'd do it. Maybe if his knee still is really sore, but otherwise I just think it's unlikely. I haven't thought hard about this, so I'm just kind of winging it, I'd like to ask some guys around the league what they'd do. But until they're mathematically eliminated that's not even on the table.
Again, not until the playoffs are eliminated do you do that. Though the player I'm most intrigued by in that group is Tonyan, and I could see playing him more, especially now that Graham is compromised with the broken thumb.
The thing I wonder about is what happened to the slant? At the end of the game last week, the Vikings faced third-and-7 or whatever it was, and a first down ends the game. They threw a short slant to Diggs and game over. Now, when you get into play calling and tendencies and game planning and all that, there's so much we don't know as laymen, as in, we don't know what we don't know. So I doubt it's as simple as, call the slant more. Yet, I still can't help wondering what's happened to the slant in the Packers' offense.
I think that's always been a tendency. You might remember back in '09 through the first half of the season he was on pace to challenge the record for most times being sacked in a season, but then McCarthy adjusted the offense and went to quicker-hitting stuff and convinced him to get the ball out faster, and it wasn't an issue. It's crept back in a few times since, though to be fair, I'm sure it can be a fine line between holding the ball too long and making the big plays he's made outside the pocket.
The assistant coaching changes are all McCarthy. As for Gutekunst's performance, I'd say the early results are pretty decent. His first draft looks really promising -- Alexander is a player, Jackson shows potential, ESB and MVS are promising young receivers, and the young punter looks promising too. Burks has ability and still could pan out. He's proven willing to get rid of guys during the season, churn the roster, which I think was one of Thompson's failings. But more to the point, who do you think is better qualified to hire a coach, Murphy or Gutekunst? And the coach and GM have to work closely together. Forced marriages are a bad idea.
Reporters have asked these questions multiple times of Rodgers, McCarthy and others. The answers tend to be circular, because none of the parties wants to reveal anything, either for competitive reasons (not giving future opponents any knowledge of anything) or internal politics (not embarrassing someone by calling him out publicly). And it's impossible to know how often Rodgers is changing the plays, and what he's changing them to, and whether he made the right or wrong decision, unless you're in the meetings and on the field.
OK, this has to be it, open locker room in a little while so I have to get out to Lambeau. Lots of great comments and questions, thanks for taking the time to share them. Way too many to get to them all, but we do this every week, so try again next Wednesday and hopefully I'll get to your question. As for Tom's question, really, I think one player of the quality you suggest would make a big difference. Jones and Adams are good players, so adding someone a notch better than that, you're talking about an outstanding player. Their best chance of getting one is the draft. They have those two first-round picks. Depending on where they finish, they should be able to get into the top 10 and maybe even the top five if there's a guy they really, really like. And with that, we'll have to call it another chat. Thanks again everyone, look forward to chatting with you again next week. Until then, take care.