Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Submit your questions for Pete's live chat Wednesday at noon CDT.

    Hi Pete, some fans seem excited about the return of Oren Burks to help with the defense, I don't see it myself considering he hardly played last year and is pretty much a glorified rookie. What can he really add for this porous run defense?
    OK everybody, let'd get right to it. I'd agree that it remains to be seen how big of a difference he makes, he hasn't played much, after all. He looked OK in camp, had his moments but didn't just jump off the field or anything like that. There are reasons he could help, though. While he's been out they've mostly been using a safety in his place, but at 232 pounds he's a lot bigger than a safety should be better against the run. He also runs well enough that at least as far as straight line speed he can match up OK against TEs and running backs. Goodson, the ILB they picked up a few weeks ago, doesn't run well enough to do that. So Burks at least adds that versatility. His return also will help make up for the Raven Greene injury, because Burks will be getting a lot of the snaps Greene would have, and that way they won't have to move Amos to ILB, which means they'll be better on the back end because they won't have to replace Amos back there with Redmond. Burks should be better than a rookie because he was with the team all last season practicing and then had a full offseason as well. So even though he missed a lot of camp he should be further along than last year. But it still remains to be seen how big a difference he makes, we really haven't seen enough of him to know how good he is.
    Two pass interference thoughts/questions. Why didnt GB challenge PI on the last pass to MVS which was intercepted-they had a time out left and had nothing to loose by challenging. Also, the NFL clearly was pressured to allow PI challenges after the NFC Conference game debacle. Do you think the NFL is purposely letting the challenge system "fail"--so they can say look, we tried, but it didn't work. I have watched football for many years and the "PI non call" on the challenge involving MVS has been ROUTINELY deemed PI, but not so on replay. What do you think is going on?
    That goal-line interception came in the final two minutes, so it would have been a booth review, and the booth chose not to review it. Based on how Al Riveron has been handling the PI challenges, there was zero chance that would have been overturned. Zero chance. I don't see the conspiracy you do. Remember, in the offseason the league came out with a video showing examples of calls that would have been overturned, and there were some (like the one that wasn't called on that deep ball to Crooks) that weren't nearly as egregious as calls they've let stand this year. It seemed like they tight up the rule during the preseason. Who knows? Maybe they'll adjust the interpretation as the season goes on. Doubt it, but you never know. But with the way it stands, it's not even having worth having the challenge, because they're not overturning anything.
    Thanks for the chat Pete.
    Wondering if you see the following as long term solutions for the Pack. Blake Martinez, Kevin King, Geronimo Allison, Corey Lindsley. Two seem to be just "guys" you can kind of work with, one is undersized and the other can't stay on the field. Do you see long term money for any of the above?
    Martinez probably not, he has some strengths (really good at getting calls made and getting guys lined up and QBing the defense), but it sure looks like he's not quite dynamic-explosive enough to be the starter and every-down guy at ILB. King remains to be seen, the issue with him isn't ability or level of play, it's health, he's just hurt all the time, as  he is now with that groin. We'll have to see how long he stays out this time. He's under contract for one more year, so it's not like they'll have to make a decision on him in the offseason. Allison, probably need to see how much he improves as the season goes on. He started pretty well last year, not so great this year but then he made a couple good plays against the Eagles last week. I think Linsley is pretty good, I'd think he'd be worth doing another contract with as long as his health holds up.
    Pete,

    The 4th and goal playcalling. Any chance Rodgers changed the play from a run? Seems suspicious that this "balanced" offense would pass 4 times. And no way the Coach would ever admit this to the public.
    Don't know on that. The one call when he kept the ball and rolled to his left and threw the ball away was an RPO and he chose to keep it rather than hand off.
    Pete, more than one writer / commentator have said that MVS is a straight line receiver. Is he another Cory Bradford? It takes a couple of years to learn the position but do you think MVS can develop his release, route running, and ability to read and adjust to coverages to become a Driver, Nelson, Jennings or Jones type of player? Are the instincts there?
    I think he's a lot better than Cory Bradford. I still think he could become the kind of player you're talking about. He has a lot of ability and from what I can tell wants to be good, so he'll work at it. I'm not saying he'll definitely make it to that level, but if I'm the Packers I'm thinking it's still a possibility.
    I have to admit that trade kind of came out of the blue to me. Davis is more a speed guy than a slot receiver from what I can tell, but he could play in there and as you point out he was a good threat on the jet sweep, I thought they were going to get some mileage out of him because of jet sweep threat -- the jet sweep and fake jet sweep are a big part of the Shanahan/McVay/LaFleur offense. They really don't have anybody else who's good at tit. Allison isn't because as you point out he's not very fast, Valdes-Scantling is fast but is also a long strider, not a shifty runner. I guess Shepherd is their best option, but how much is he going to play?
    Gutekunst has made a lot of great moves in the last 2 years, Jimmy Graham isn't one of them. I think if they were paying him $2 or 3M a year we'd hardly notice. When he's paid as the top TE and performing at a level that places him barely in the top 30 the problems are magnified. I don't think there's any chance he's back next year but what's the beast solution for the rest of this year? No ones going to trade for him, Sternberger not going to be any help this year and no real help is going to suddenly be available. Really, what now?
    Really not much they can do with Graham. He's a vested veteran and was on the roster Week 1, so if they cut him they'd have to pay him for the rest of the year anyway. So they'll just have to try to get the best out of him they can and hope Tonyan improves a lot.
    Hi Pete. Why do you think Vitale isn’t more involved in the offense? During the the pre season it sure looked like he was going to have a role in this offense. I thought last week, especially after Williams went down, we would see more from him.
    I'm still wondering the same thing. Not that I thought he was going to be a difference maker or anything, but early in camp he was playing a lot and doing fine, looked good catching the ball and could catch the ball downfield, something you don't see often in a FB. Now part of all that playing time might have been they were doing installs in camp, so there might have been some days when the FB was a big part of the install package they were doing that day, but still, I thought he'd play a little more than he has. This is an offensive scheme that actually makes use of the FB position. But after he came back from the calf injury he just didn't play as much even in practice. With Adams almost surely out this week, they'll be looking for help in the passing game anywhere they can get it. Maybe they'll play him a little more this week and throw a three or four passes his way.
    Pete, what's the fix for the run defense? Run less nickel? Go away from using safeties as ILBs?
    Both are possibilities, though the offensive personnel can dictate that too, if a team is in 11 personnel (1 RB, 1TE and 3 WRs) it's pretty tough not to play nickel. Running stunts and and D-line slants could be another possibility. Call more run blitzes. If Burks returns this week, he could help at least a little, though not sure how much he'd play after all the time he's missed. Playing Goodson a little more, but then you give up a lot in coverage.
    if jamal Williams is out of the Dallas game, are they going to give Dexter Williams a jersey? Don't they need more RB depth if this is what the LaFluer offense is based on?
    If J Williams can't play, they'd have to suit up D Williams. Going into a game with only Jones and Vitale as RB options would be way, way too risky. Yes, based on how much LaFleur emphasizes the run game, they need more RB depth. I'd put RB very high on their needs list for next offseason.
    Hi Pete, Lots of "turf toe" talk. But what's the prognosis on Bulaga's shoulder? Did he really last just 3 games (again)?
    No news on that, LaFleur provided no injury information when asked at his press conference today. No way to know the severity, but if Bulaga's shoulder was serous as in season-threatening I'd think something would have leaked by now. If he doesn't play they could play Light there, or they could move Turner to tackle and replace him at guard with Lucas Patrick.
    Hi Pete, Thanks for chatting with us! We now really understand that TNF is brutal and risky for players. NFL focuses on players safety. Right? Should TNF be scheduled after a bye week? There should be some room to make TNF game schedule given 3 games on Thanksgiving. Has it been discussed in NFL? If so, what hurdles are there? Thanks!
    Intuitively it seems really tough on guys, though if I remember right I read last year that the NFL's injury data says that the injury rate is no higher on Thursdays than Saturdays. But I'd think it's pretty hard on them. In thinking it through, you couldn't have everybody play on Thursday after their bye, because more than two teams have a bye on most weeks. Also, the byes don't start until Week 4 and run through, I don't know, I think maybe Week 10. I don't know if there's a good solution other than not playing on Thursdays, but that seems to be a money maker for the league, so good luck getting it to stop.
    Hi Pete, love these chats. One question. First and goal from the what was it 5 yard line? No run whatsoever. I understand both tackles were hurt, but most importantly who made those calls? If you can't move a line in 4 shots than you deserve to lose, I've been a Packer fan for more than 60 years, beginning with Babe Parili or Lamar McHan, spelling and memory stinks, mostly spelling, so I have experienced all the triumphs and the lows. Well second question, why would you hire someone like LaFleur when you have the best QB in the NFL and tie his hands with a system where you need a TE that can block and catch and run. Tell GM he doesn't have someone like that on his roster.
    Yeah, there's a lot to pick apart on both those possessions inside the 5 that yielded zero points. First and goal from the 1 and no points? That will get you beat. BTW, only one tackle was hurt -- Bulaga was out but Bakhtiari was in the game. As mentioned earlier there was one RPO call in there, and Rodgers kept the ball, so that was his decision. It does speak to how bad their run game has been that they didn't just try to ram it in there. It is very much a head scratcher why they kept Graham, many of us said so at the time. He is a poor blocker and he's lost a lot of his explosiveness. They do need a complete TE. I don't know if Sternberger will be that kind of player in the future -- he was mainly a receiving TE in college.
    Hi Pete, Gutey was facing Armageddon on the defensive roster this past off season. To his credit, he addressed it aggressively. On Offense he also focused rightfully on the OL. But that left WR vulnerable. Assuming Adams is out, that leaves GB with the following depth chart at WR:
    1. MVS (5th rond pick)
    2. Allison (UDFA)
    3. Kumerow (UDFA)
    4. Lazard (UDFA)
    5. Sheppard (UDFA)
    That's just not legit talent in the 2019 NFL. Is Dez healthy?
    I still think there's some talent there, though it's not developing quite as quickly as I thought it might early this year. I get what you're saying with their backgrounds, not any high-round pedigree, which usually means not as much physical talent, and there's truth to that. But I still think MVS has more ability than you'd normally associate with a fifth-round pick. His Height/weight/speed stacks up pretty well with guys picked in the early rounds. Except for Shepherd, they all are big for the position, so there is a physical quality that stands out -- they all have a large catch radius. St. Brown's injury doesn't help, either. I have to think they're at least looking at who's available in the trade market, but you have to be careful there, you don't want to do something desperate for a guy who might be in decline or has a troubling injury history.
    I watch some of the elite defenses in the NFL and they all have inside linebackers who run fast, fill holes, and are sure tacklers. The Packers best ILB is Martinez. He is a sure tackler, but can't run fast or fill holes. It seems like ILB has been a weakness since the days of Nick Barnett. It's such an obvious problem that it drives me crazy that the team has given the position such a low priority. What do you think? Please don't tell me that the answer is Oren Burks; he can't stay healthy and was terrible when he played last year.
    I can't disagree. It is a lower-priority position league wide, you can see that in how much ILBs are paid. But if you have a fast. dynamic guy in there, it makes your defense a lot faster. Problem is those guys are still relatively rare, so you have to use a high draft pick to get them. Roquan Smith, Kuechley, Devin Bush, Devin White, those guys were all really high picks, I think all top 10. If you pick an ILB with your first-rounder, then you're not  picking someone at a lot of other important positions of need. So they're either going to have to take one in the first round or two, or do some really excellent scouting (and maybe get a little lucky) getting one in a later round. To your point though, it does seem like teams are starting to emphasize that position more, because it does require someone who is big and explosive enough to make plays in the run game but runs well enough to cover these good receiving TEs and RBs. Maybe college football will start producing more of them because of the way that game has spread out.
    Pete, what's the key to improving our run defense? Improved play of linebackers or tougher play up front? Specifically who needs to play better?
    When I re-watched the game, it looked like the main inside guys struggled against Philly. We're talking Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Tyler Lancaster and Blake Martinez. It looked like the Eagles were often able to single block Clark without him making many plays. He's one of their best guys, and the Packers need him to eat up more double teams or make teams pay for single-blocking him. Lowry and Lancaster just weren't as stout as they had been the first three weeks. Martinez has his limitations physically, and those showed up Sunday, plus he took a couple chances filling the wrong gap while trying to make a play at the LOS, and that cost them. I talked with a scout from the NFC East this week, and he thinks Philly's O-line is really big and physical and good blocking for the run even if it had been taking some heat for its play the first three weeks. So credit Philly too. I can't give you the tactics the Packers need to employ to deal with Elliott -- that's beyond my area of expertise -- but they definitely need to emphasize run defense or they'll get run right over on Sunday.
    When do you cut Kumerow for never being available in a five year career? Sad but Where’s the hope that he’ll healthily consistently? Or just he went to school in Wi?
    Yeah, injuries were his problem in Cincinnati, too. He might not have a body that will hold up in the NFL. I wouldn't think they're at that point with him yet, mainly because he showed in camp he should be able to help them, and it's not like they have a lot of great options unless they end up trading for a receiver. They really could use him now, though, you're right. In camp and preseason games he seemed to get open a fair amount, be where the QBs expected and usually caught the ball when it came his way.
    Hi Pete, I am starting to smell bust on Josh Jackson.What is your take on his progression.
    Hard to tell because he missed so much time in camp with that foot injury. That was a lot of valuable work he missed. I do wonder if he'll end up being a safety in this league. His strengths are instincts and playing the ball, weakness is straight-line speed.
    Hi Pete, If I remember correctly, in the last game when it ended with the interception in the end zone, Packers had 2 timeouts left? We the game virtually over, why wouldn't LaFleur use a timeout with the hope that the officials would look at the interception and potential pass interference? He had nothing to lose but the game.
    After the game LaFleur said it was his understanding the replay official had already decided not to review it. I get what you're saying, might have been worth calling TO anyway. But really, with the way Riveron is interpreting (or has been ordered to interpret) the rule, there was zero, zero, zero chance that he was going to call that PI.
    Hi Pete - was sure tough watching us get a reality check last Thursday. Overall and without exaggerating things one way or the other, it sure seems last week's performance may likely be our season in a nutshell......and an 8-8 finish more likely (and as many pundits projected) ? Overall a decent defense on passing at least, below average vs the run, and an offense that still can't quite get the job done when needed with a QB that is just not showing anything above average this year (or last couple either)?
    OK, this will have to be the final question, other duties to attend to. But thanks for coming by and sharing your thoughts and questions. I'll start answering this question by saying the hardest thing about analyzing this league is to not become a prisoner of what happened most recently. It requires constant self-reminding. So, a quarter of the way into the season I'd say it's pretty clear the Packers' defense is better than it's been for about a decade. It has more talent, more guys that can make plays, than it has in a long time. There are real issues stopping the run. We'll learn as the season goes on just how big a problem it is, but if you're Packers it has to be a real concern. The offense showed a lot more life last week -- the run game was terrible, and it needs to get better because it's such a big part of what LaFLeur wants to do. But really, they were moving the ball  up and down the field through the air, so doesn't it really make that big a difference they couldn't run it very well? I realize it's not the ideal way to play, but they were getting in scoring position regularly, which matters most. Before the season I predicted they'd finish 8-8. If I could revise that now, I'd go 9-7, maybe maybe maybe 10-6. But this is why they play the games. We think we have a pretty good feel for things, but then something changes -- key injuries, or a guy improves and becomes a key player, or something jells. Let's see what happens the next quarter of the season, this will probably be the toughest quarter of their schedule with Dallas and KC and a seemingly improved Detroit team. And with that, we'll call it another chat. Thanks again everyone, and thanks especially to our subscribers, you help make it possible for us to cover this team as thoroughly as we do. As a reminder, we now have the Packers News app for $4.99 a month, get all our Packers news that way, it's a great deal. Until next week, take care everybody.
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