OK everybody, let's get started, lots of questions already submitted. I don't know their plans but I have trouble seeing them extending his contract. He's a good guy to have in the locker room, a pro, is assignment-sure and a good communicator/quarterback for the defense, but as a starter he just lacks the explosiveness to make a lot of plays, and inside linebackers have so many cover responsibilities against athletic tight ends and fast RBs, and he doesn't have the speed/explosiveness you need in a starter in there. I'm sure ILB will be a huge priority next offseason. No idea on Summers. He is fast, not doubt about, but does he have much of a clue what he's doing now that we're in the regular season and things are getting more complicated?
Not sure about Fackrell. He's a long body type and has trained all his football career (college and NFL) as a pass rusher so I'm just not sure how he'd do in there, and he did run only 4.72, which for an ILB is slow, and I'd question whether his change of direction would be good enough. So my thinking is it would be a really tough transition. It's not looking promising with Burks as of now, that's true. He missed so much of camp because of the pec injury, so I'd be hesitant to call it a lost cause at this point, but with their need for a second ILB his inability to get much playing time is a bad sign. Campbell has been out so long (ACL recovery) I'd think if he's active he'd only play special teams, that's my best guess.
Haha, no, but it says something that there were already submitted more questions than I'll probably be able to get to. The hard part about analyzing this league is to make perceptive judgments that have staying power and that time proves right, and to not be a prisoner of what happened most recently. It's not easy, because you want to be good at identifying real problems and not just overlooking something, but also not going up and down with whatever just happened.
This is kind of a follow up to your last question. Hard to explain this one, they had so much going for them. The unusual feeling of being on the road yet having the crowd very much on their side, that should have given them a huge lift. I'm sure we'll get to this later with more specific questions, but the thing that surprised me was the pass defense. Up to this game it had given up too many big plays, and it was really struggling against the run. But the thing it had going for it was on third and 5 or more, it had a decent chance of getting off the field. Not in this game.
Seemed like he got off to a really good start but as the season has gone on he's been less and less visible. Seems like his pass rushing has been OK, but he hasn't been as good against the run as he was last year and really early this season. Early on the loss of Daniels didn't hurt this defense as all, but as the run issues continue maybe they could use him. Although, he has been hurt in Detroit, so maybe he's hit that point in his career (which surely was one of the reasons Gutekunst released him, concerns about his health holding up). Za'Darius Smith plays the run pretty well, and Preston Smith seems OK. I've written this already, but an OL coach in the league told me that a weakness of the Rex Ryan/Pettine scheme is stopping the run, they want to be disruptive and don't emphasize and teach being gap conscious as much as other defensive systems/coaches in the league.
I did hear from someone in the league that they were asking around about ILBs -- didn't hear a specific name -- so it sounds like it was on their radar. Obviously they didn't pull the trigger, so Gutekunst thought the price was too high on any guys he inquired about. I was mildly surprised they didn't do a deal and thought ILB or TE were maybe the two most likely positions they would have traded for.
I'm not predicting Gary will be a good NFL player, bute ven first-round picks can have quiet rookie years and then blossom. I still think he's going to end up being an inside player. He's a power-oriented guy and he's already so big -- 272 if I remember right -- he could add just a little more weight and be an explosive player for an inside rusher/player. We should have a decent idea by next year at this time.
Seemed like LaFleur had made some really good adjustments the previous two or three weeks, but not in this game. The offensive line has a young and relatively speaking inexperienced coach in Stenavich, and it seemed like they didn't adjust well to the Chargers' rush. Also, that deep shot on third-and-8 on the first possession of the second half was kind of a head scratcher, though it probably was a catchable ball, it did go off Kumerow's fingertips. But still, in that situation, keep the chains moving, get some rhythm going instead of taking a shot. Don't know if that was the ball call or Rodgers' decision, but it was a strange time to take a shot.
I have, watching other games I'm sure I have but couldn't point them out. But you're right, that was really bad, took them out of the game early. It was a strange game, they really didn't wake up until the fourth quarter. They've had their share of really bad games over the 25 years I've covered them, and this one ranks right up there. Just a total dud.
This comes up a lot. My guess, and it is just a guess, is that the main reason their special teams have been shaky to bad is that they haven't had a really good return guy for a long, long. That's a huge part of it. I also get the feeling that the fans in most NFL cities are unhappy with their special teams. I remember getting letters in the mail (yes, this is before email) about how bad Nolan Cromwell was in the early-mid '90s, and the complaints haven't stopped since then. There probably are a couple special teams coaches in the league who are better than the rest, and then there's everyone else, and the Packers haven't had one of those upper-echelon guys (like Dave Toub).
I can't disagree with you. My usual take is, you take your chances when you buy a ticket. That's how sports work, there are no guarantees, and teams have bad days. But I remember thinking in the fourth quarter of that game what a disappointment it must have been for these fans, they'd taken over the stadium, their team was looking good coming in, the vibe in the stadium was festive and pro-Packers, and then the Packers absolutely didn't show up. These things happen in sports at all levels, good teams can have horrendous days, bad teams can play out of their minds, etc, etc. And nobody forced anyone to buy a ticket. But that was an uncommonly uninspired and dreadful performance, and if it doesn't serve as a wakeup call to everyone on that team, then nothing will.
The only thing you're missing is that Bush was drafted before the Packers picked, the Steelers traded up to No. 10 overall to get him, Gary went at No. 12. Bush was the guy I went on record predicting they'd draft but he didn't make it to them, and they didn't trade up for him. I don't know that they would have taken Bush if both were on the board, but my guess is they would have.
No, Alexander has been a much better player in his first 1 1/2 seasons than Buckley was. Alexander has made a lot of plays on the ball, he's highly competitive and battles to the end of the play always trying to rip the ball out, and he's way, way, way more physical in coverage and as a run defender than Buckley ever was. Alexander has given up too many big plays -- he had two more last week -- and he gambles more than he should. I think he's a good cornerback who's had a couple notably bad games this season (Dallas and LAC). It's a hard position, and almost all of them get beaten. Maybe the rest of the season will prove me wrong, but I still think he's a good, talented player.
So, I've thought they were quite a bit better on defense this year than they'd been, even though they'd given up big plays and allowing a lot of yards in several games. Their pass rush was improved, and they were getting pressure rushing four, which is something they had done for years. They weren't a top defense and struggled stopping the run, but they were improved, and they were good enough. As I said early in this chat, the thing that stood out to me was their ability to get off the field on third and 5 or more. They were capable of getting stops that they often didn't get in the past. This last game, though, they didn't get those third downs and they also didn't get any turnovers, which they'd been doing almost weekly before then. But it was the third and longs that stood out to me, they gave up a few first downs in those situations. I don't know if that was an anomaly, but it's not good. I did notice Kevin King played only about half the game, he might be having trouble with that groin injury he had earlier in the season, and one of the keys to the pass defense is having him and Alexander on the field at the same time. But if I'm the Packers, that's what would have bothered me most, was not only was the run defense bad, but so was the pass defense.
I'll be interested to see. If he can play that ILB/safety position as well as Greene did, then it will have a domino effect on the secondary, because Amos can stay at safety all game, and he and Savage will be the safeties, rather than having Redmond or Sullivan getting a lot of snaps. But Campbell is just back from a long ACL rehab and will need time to get into any kind of playing form.
They do need all those things, but I have to point, nobody in the league has everything, that just doesn't happen anymore because of FA and the cap. The chances of there being a team like the Cowboys of the early-mid-90s, or 49ers before that, or Steelers in the '70s, are really, really, really slim. Really, is anybody in the league that good? New England was unbeaten and shutting down everybody but had played a soft schedule, then got beat last week by Baltimore, the first contender they've played. San Francisco is unbeaten, but are the 49ers really that good? Its schedule hasn't been that tough -- Tampa Bay, Cincy, Cleveland, Arizona and Washington among their wins. I don't know those teams' rosters well enough, but I suspect they have some big holes. They also have some great strengths -- it sounds like the 49ers' DL, with five former first-round picks (high first-rounders), has been dominant. The 49ers and Patriots are thin at receiver. Maybe the Patriots don't have any glaring weaknesses on defense, that might be one of their strengths.
That's the question, and it gets to the point we were discussing earlier about seeing things clear-eyed while also not being a prisoner of what happened most recently. Look, maybe they'll really level off and not be nearly as good in the second half of the season. That's a possibility. This is not a great team. But their schedule isn't a killer, and it will take more than one horrendous game to convince me, after what we'd seen up to last week, that they're not a contender. They're not the top contender -- SF and NO are the top NFC contenders -- but who knows how things are going to go? Did anyone at this point 2010 think they'd win the SB? Or in '11 think the Giants would? Or '12 think the Ravens? Or in '17, with Wentz injured, think the Eagles? It's a long season with many ups and downs. They have some persistent issues (run defense, allowing big plays) that bear watching closely. That's about all I can offer up.
I would bet against Sternberger doing much this year -- not that he can't, but odds are against it, he missed a lot of camp and the first half of the season, and it wasn't like he was making a lot of plays before he got hurt. I still think their best bet at TE is Tonyan. Maybe he'll be back from his hip injury this week. Sounds like he was fairly close last week.
I'm not saying RB isn't a need, I think it is because of Jones' injury history, and you really need two of them in any given game, so if Jones is hurt they're down to one. Earlier in the year I would have been strongly in your boat, and I still get the point because there's still almost half a season to go, and Jones could get hurt. But Williams has played well, there's no denying that. So if they'd traded for Drake, he might hardly play. He looked good, but I'd take Jones over him in a heartbeat, so it's not like he'd come in and be the starter. The reason he played for Arizona was because David Johnson was hurt. I guess that's a long way of saying, I'd have looked harder for an ILB or TE than RB if I were the Packers. I get your point, it could be Jones will get hurt and they'll have wished they had Drake. But a lot of these decisions are really gray area.
As I said earlier, I was mildly surprised they didn't make a deal, especially for an ILB, TE or maybe WR. I really thought they would. I don't think they're six or seven players away from being a contender. Everything that's happened so far this season suggests they're a contender now. Not a top contender, but legitimately in the conversation. Now, maybe things go dowhnill down the stretch, that's a possibility. But as we were talking about earlier, every team has plenty of holes. They need to upgrade a couple positions for sure (ILB, TE, maybe/probably WR). But they have a decent amount of talent, too.
OK, this will have to be the last question, other duties to get to. But thanks everyone for coming by and sharing your opinions and questions. Way too many questions to get to them all, but hopefully in answering someone else's question I addressed what you might have been thinking about. I do think Tonyan's return can help a little, he's their most athletic TE by far, and Lazard looks pretty decent -- he's not a blazer or anything but has great size and seems to have some football instincts. Valdes-Scantling has been mostly a boom or bust guy so far this year, a legit big-play threat for sure but not producing a lot of short- and medium-range plays. He still has half a season to keep improving, but the this seasons' clock is ticking, and they need the help. He is a talented guy, and it seems like he wants to be good, which is important because it suggests he'll work at it. But they could use a lot more consistency out of him, and I thought he'd be showing more by this point. With that, we'll have to put this chat in the books. Thanks again everyone, and thanks especially to our subscribers, you help make possible our extensive coverage of this team, it takes a lot of resources and you help provide them. And remember you can get the Packers News app for $4.95 a month, it's a great deal for all the Packers news fit to print. Thanks again everyone, and until next week, take care.