OK everybody, let's get started. Just to let you know usually I don't have to write on chat days but today I do so we're going for only an hour today. As for the question, count me among those who think RB is toward the higher end of the priority list because of Jones' lack of durability. Williams is a good all-around FB player but not a good enough pure runner for a team that values the run as much as LaFleur says he does. Yeah, 12 is way too rich for Jacobs but I have to think he's at least a possibility at 30. I don't know how Gutekunst has him rated but it sounds like Jacobs is a late 1/early 2 kind of guy. I kinda doubt Gutekunst would trade up for a running back from 30, that draft capital is valuable and he has a lot of needs. The other factor is whether Gutekunst thinks he can get a guy almost as good in, say, the third round. Then at 30 there might be another position he likes better. But yeah, I'm thinking RB is a real priority and that Jacobs would be in play if available at 30.
Not ready to get definitive yet, you're going to have to wait until the week of the draft for that, The Doctor. Sounds like there is zero chance White is there at 12. I talked to one scout who thinks he's the best defensive player in the draft. The strength of the draft at the top is DE/OLB and DL. So those are the positions most likely but you never know how the QBs are going to fall, which can push guys down the board a couple spots. If Oliver were there they'd have to really seriously consider taking him unless they don't think he's a good fit in their scheme -- Oliver is a one-gap penetrating guy, the Packers' defense is more two-gap for the linemen -- though watching Pettine last season it looks like he's willing to tweak and adjust his defense based on personnel. Odds are Oliver won't be there.
I'm sure there was plenty of truth in the article, along with some exaggeration and some things that were wrong. I highly doubt, for instance, that Murphy told Rodgers not to be part of the problem, that just doesn't sound like Murphy to me, I don't think he'd be that confrontational with a player. One of the things that stood out to me was the variety of opinions, they were all over the map, which is the nature of these things. A lot of it really does depend on who you talk to. And if you're inclined to think McCarthy got complacent and his offense didn't evolve, there were voices in the story to back that up and justify Rodgers disliking the offense the last couple years. If you think Rodgers isn't a good leader and can be hard to get along with, there were plenty of voices in the story to back that up. I don't doubt there's some truth in both points of view, I think all that was out there for the world to see last season. No matter how you look at it, the Packers had to make the coaching change, it was irreperable by last season, and it was stagnant and both the Packers and McCarthy needed to move on. Rodgers had the leverage, the Packers had made their commitment to him in August, so McCarthy had to go. I agree, Rodgers has a lot at stake in the next couple seasons. He got the change he was looking for. I would think he'd be highly motivated to play well and win.
That's basically my thinking and my best guess, too. The only thing I'd say is, you never know. You just don't know what the Packers' board looks like near the top, how they have those guys rated, and how big the separation is between some of the top guys. Different scouts and different teams can see players quite differently. So maybe there's a guy available at No. 8 that Gutekunst thinks is one of the three or four best guys in the draft. Maybe he'd go up and get him. But like you, I'm guessing he just stays put and picks at 12, because they do have so many needs, and trading up costs draft capital.
Right now I'm kinda thinking one of the pass rushers -- Sweat if he's there, Gary, Burns -- but that's subject to change in the next two weeks, as I talk to more scouts maybe somebody else will look more likely.
In the end it still comes down to what happens on the field, Chemistry matters, don't get me wrong, it can affect how teams play. But the players do get a new start with a new coach, the whole vibe around the team is different because of a new staff, new schedule, new offense, new way of doing a lot of things. What matters most still is whether Rodgers returns to MVP-caliber form. Can LaFleur do things to help, like really commit to the run game (with enough good backs to make it work) and have a quicker-hit, rhythm passing game, with the boots and waggles and scrambles mixed in, rather than being the core of the offense? How open is Rodgers to playing that way? How much did Rodgers' knee injury -- he said he broke the tibial plateau of his leg when he injured his knee last season -- affect his play? Those are still what matters most. Look, bad things could happen. They also could be in the Super Bowl in two years. I wouldn't confidently bet against or on either. Would you?
Haven't heard how it went. As you suggest, there are a lot of ways to lead for head coaches. There's energy and unbridled enthusiasm like Sean McVay and Pete Carroll. But plenty of coaches have won without being such overtly dynamic forces, guys like Dungy, Landry, Shula. What matters most is competence. If players think you really know what you're doing, they'll follow. As a couple assistant coaches I asked this very question to said a month or so ago, if players think the coach is doing everything he can to make them better and help lengthen their careers, they'll follow him.
The offseason program is nine weeks long and divided into three phases. Phase 1 is for the first two weeks and is for strength and conditioning, so only the strength staff can work with the players and players can be on the field for only 90 mins. Phase 2 is for three weeks and is for individual position workouts, where coaches can be on the field but there is no offense vs. defense drills (one-on-one, 11-on-11, whatever). Phase 3 is three weeks of organized team workouts, which is basically unpadded practices. Every team also gets a mandatory minicamp, and teams with a new head coach (such as the Packers) get a second, voluntary minicamp.
I really don't know, these things are usually impossible to predict. I mean, it's pretty easy to predict Seattle will move back, I think they're at 21 or 22, because they've traded most of their picks and want to add more picks. But the Packers? Ten is a lot of picks, but they have a lot of needs. Trading up costs picks. But sure, if there's a guy he loves still on the board at 23 or 24 or whatever, and he's sitting there at 30, he could move up. He moved twice in the first round last year, way back and then up. Your guess for this draft is as good as mine.
I'm sure that's how Murphy sees it. It's become clear now, though nobody in the organization would let on at the time, that Thompson's health was hurting his performance his last couple years. Among other things, he was in position to try to mediate with Rodgers and McCarthy, and didn't. So that's on Murphy, he was in the building yet was way late seeing that Thompson's performance was waning. I can't look into Murphy's mind and heart, so I can't say for certain whether he made a power grab with the new structure because maybe he secretly all along wanted to be more involved in football. But I get why someone would think that looking from the outside, it's a perfectly fair viewpoint. To be perfectly honest, I don't have a high degree of confidence on that either way, I'm just not sure. Maybe he was embarrassed/bothered that he didn't recognize the need to replace Thompson sooner, and the new setup was one way to help keep him more involved so it wouldn't happen again. That's possible also, along with his stated desire to rid the franchise of the silos (which I personally think was a direct result of Thompson's health). But I'm on record as saying I'm not a fan of the new structure because it opens the door for in-fighting and back-stabbing when things go poorly -- the coach, the GM and the cap guy all report to Murphy so are in position to lobby with him and cast blame on the others. When you have the GM-football czar, the coach and cap guy report to him, and the GM reports to the president. If the GM doesn't like what's going on, he can make any change in football he wants (fire the coach, the cap guy, whoever). If the president doesn't like the way things are heading, he replaces the GM. It's streamlined and there's a clear delineation of authority. That setup helped rescue this franchise from 25 years of losing, and it had served it well since. But Murphy has made the call, so we'll have to see where it leads.
Yeah, I think that happens at a lot of places, a GM or owner will insist on the coach making staff changes to keep his job. I personally have some trouble with that, I think the coach has to be able to pick his own assistants, people he's comfortable working with. From what I can tell, that's the way the Packers have been doing it going back to Wolf. Now, I'm sure there are times when the Packers' GM has gone to the coach and said, I think you have a real problem with this coach, or I feel pretty strongly you need to make a change at this coordinator. But in the end, as far as I can tell, it ultimately was the coach's call. And yeah, good assistants are really important for building a winning program.
OK, this is going to have to be the last question, have a column to write. My apologies, so many questions I didn't have time to even glance at, but we'll do a long one next week, so try again then. As for Luis' question, I'm sure LaFleur can find a way to work in any kind of TE, but the starting point of their offense is the outside zone, which benefits from having a good blocking tight end, because that's where the run often is going, just outside or inside him. So I'd guess a complete tight end like Hockenson would appeal more to the Packers than Fant. Hockenson is the better blocker of the two, and though he's not as dynamic a receiver, he's still a good receiver, so him being on the field wouldn't be a tip-off of the play call, and if it's a run he's a pretty decent blocker. That's just my best guess. The Packers might think that Fant's upside is so great that it trumps Hockenson's blocking. And with that, we've put another chat in the books. Thanks again everyone, way too many questions to get to, but try again next week. The draft is closing in, lots to talk about. Until next Thursday, take care.