Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

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

    Thanks for the great work, Pete! The Packers won it all when run stuffers who could run like Howard Green and Gilbert Brown were anchoring the D. (Makes me crave a Gilbert Burger.) Do you think a run stuffing big bubba like DJ Reader of Houston could fit that bill as a mid-tier free agent? Would you eat a DJ Burger? ;-)
    OK everybody, let's get right to it. I've been thinking the same thing myself for a few weeks now. That seems like it's exactly the kind of reasonably priced player you can get in free agency, a Howard Green type who can't really rush the passer but is a load against the run on early downs, just really hard to move, which limits running lanes and keeps blockers off linebackers. I really don't know anything about Reader, but I'd think there's a really good chance Gutekunst will sign that kind of player. I would if I were him, put it that way.
    Pete, thanks for the chat. What do you think of hiring Gray as the db's coach? What do you make of the fact that LeFleur, not Pettine, made the decision to hire him?
    Generally speaking the Packers have a young staff, so it's a good idea to add a highly experienced coach to the mix. He's been a coordinator, so it might have at least a little something to do with run defense too, even though Gray is a DBs coach. I don't know exactly how the interview process worked, if he interviewed with Pettine also, but it sounds like LaFleur was very much involved, which suggests he was very concerned about the defensive performance in that last game.
    Is what the Smith Brothers do best...ie making penetration and getting up field and creating havoc in the backfield...consistent with the type of defense it takes to stop the run...ie gap discipline and control, setting an edge etc? Are there enough players on the defensive front 7 who can do this?
    The Smiths also are big for OLBs, so they should be able to hold the point of attack against the run too. It just seems like the Pettine/Ryan defense just isn't as sound against the run as other schemes, and that's going to have to change if the Packers are going to beat the SFs of the world. As mentioned in the first question, they also could use another big-body run-stuffer in the DL rotation, and more athletic ILBs too.
    Hi Pete. Love the chats and the great work you do. If the Packers don't sign Bulaga. Any chance that Jenkins could slide out to RT? I heard he played there some in college. Then they might have better options internally at guard, or they could find one in in 3rd or 4th round of draft, or even possibly in free agency? Hate to have to draft a tackle in first round with all of the other glaring needs at WR, DT, and ILB.
    Jenkins did play some tackle in college, so that's certainly a possibility. Though he's such a good guard already I'm not sure I'd want to move him, it doesn't hurt to have really good players in there because you also have to block Aaron Donald and Fletcher Cox and guys like that. I'd think that if Bulaga isn't back maybe they'd sign a relatively cheap vet and draft there in the first three or four rounds, and the better player starts. They could move Billy Turner there too, he's played RT in the NFL, though I'm not sure how well he'd hold up there. I don't think they'd have to use a first-round pick at RT to find a pretty good player. Bakhtiari was a fourth-rounder, for instance.
    Hello Pete, how many new receivers on team next year? Who is coming back, Adams, Lazard, St. Brown?
    It could end up being only those three, yeah. Have to think they'll draft one high, maybe sign one (a slot guy?) in free agency. Valdes-Scantling is tall and can run, so that gives him a chance, but his playing time shrank to almost nothing by the end of the season, so he's in real danger of getting cut at the end of camp unless he figures it out. I don't know that they'll re-sign Allison, and even if they do it's far from a given he'll make it. Kumerow is cheap to bring back and they hold his right, but it's also very iffy that he'll make the 53.
    How much say do you think LaFleur has on the direction of the defense? Can he, as the head coach, demand Pettine change some things? Or (more likely) they collaborate on improving in certain areas?
    He definitely can demand change, and I have to think he did, or Pettine beat him to the punch and told him of the changes he's going to make when they met after the season.
    Is possible to rebuild the defense line position in one off season? In my view there is only defensive with keeping Kenny Clark.
    I still think Lowry is a decent player, a guy you can win with in the rotation, and Keke flashed some ability, there's hope for him. Hard to imagine Adams making the roster next season, and Lancaster is limited. So I don't think they have to rebuild the entire thing. They just need a run-stopper, which they might be able to get at a reasonable price in free agency, and agreed that if they can add a really talented guy early in the draft (including the first round) they should do it.
    What happened with Montravius Adams this season? Seems like as the season began the Packers were counting on him, then he disappeared.
    Yeah, completely fell off the radar. He just played his way off the field, got pushed around too much and never showed the pass-rush ability they liked when they drafted him. Like I said, there's no reason to think he'll be on the team next season.
    Hey Pete, Oren Burks had 6 tackles in the Seahawks game. Did he even play in the SF game? Is he looking to be a bust or is he at least a good ST guy?
    He is a pretty good special teams guy, really he was as good as anybody they had on the cover teams. So I have to think he'll be on the team next year. He is looking like a bust at ILB.
    Hi Pete! Do you think maybe it's time to put the Pro Bowl to rest? It's really unwatchable. I do understand the players not wanting to get hurt and I agree it's not worth the risk, so why do it? NASCAR would never have a season ending race for their stars with nobody driving over 55 mph to ensure no injuries. I think some sports just can't do an "All Star Game". What's you say?
    The Pro Bowl is a joke and has been for years and years. Football is just too physical, and injuries are too common, to put all these top players at risk for a game that counts for absolutely nothing. They only play it because it gets decent TV ratings so it helps with the TV contract. Talk about your short-term thinking. One of these years somebody is going to tear an ACL. For the life of me I can't understand why anyone watches it, I've boycotted it for years. I saw a highlight when I was at the gym the other day and a saw a long catch and run touchdown pass where it looked like they were playing touch football. It looked like how they play in practice where there's no tackling allowed. It just boggles my mind that anybody even tunes in. It's just trash sports.
    Pete
    At the end of the season there was a bug running around the locker room seemingly for weeks. What was going on with that? Was it lack of sanitization? Anti-vax sentiment? Other?
    I'm assuming it was just one of those things where once a bug gets going in such a confined space with all those people, it's hard to stop it from going around. An employer can't force employees to get flu shots but the Packers strongly encourage it, and I'm assuming pretty much all the players get them. But as we know, the shots are only good for certain strains, so it probably was some other strain that went around. Their medical staff educates the players on good hygiene -- I'm sure many of you saw the Davante Adams quote, "wash your hands, wash your butt," something like that. I'm pretty sure that came from the team.
    After terrible defensive play in the playoff loss it sure sounded like Pettine would be replaced. What happened? Was there pressure from the GM or from MM?
    The coaching staff always has been the coach's purview since I've been covering this team ('93), and especially with this new setup, where LaFleur, Gutekunst and Ball all report to Murphy, I have to think it's completely LaFleur's call. I also have to think Gutekunst offers his opinion-assessment to LaFleur. My educated guess is that if LaFleur had someone he really wanted to hire and knew he could get from his past, his own guy so to speak, he would  have made the change. But he liked Pettine's work enough and didn't want to start over on defense without a replacement in mind, so he stayed with him.
    Good afternoon Pete, in regards to your 1/25/20 article: Packers GM Brian Gutekunst should let history be his guide with Bryan Bulaga, I too agree that history should be his guide. In 2005 Ted Thompson who never met a free agent that he liked, let both Mike Wahle and Pro Bowl guard Marco Rivera walk in free agency with no heir apparent for either on the roster. It took 3 years to find a capable replacement for Wahle in Josh Sitton. It took a year longer, 4 years, to find a capable replacement for Rivera in Lang. In 2016 uncle Ted let Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton walk in free agency with nothing in return and no heir apparent on the roster, it took until 2019 to find a capable replacement in Elgton Jenkins. I know you believe Lane Taylor was a capable replacement, but I would argue he was simply a warm body. Gutey should definitely let history be his guide and learn from his predecessors mistakes. The Packers cannot afford to wait another 3 years to find a capable replacement for Bulaga, I think we can all agree that Rodgers window will be closed by then.
    That's a perfectly valid take and could end up being right. I'm not saying I have the definitive answer. I just think being cautious there is playing the odds. Bulaga very well might have a couple more healthy, strong seasons in him. He also might get hurt next season and that would be about it. The risk of investing big is significant, and based on Lang and NFL history as a whole, I'd err on the side of caution and offer a deal about like what Bulaga had before. I get what your saying, and maybe you're right. As far as Taylor goes, he was an adequate replacement for two years, but then he had that ankle injury and never played quite as well. As for Wahle and Rivera, I don't think it's so much that Thompson let them walk as how little he did to replace them. From observing Gutekunst, I think he'd do more to bring adequate replacements. Very curious to see how this goes. It's not an easy call with Bulaga, because he had a good season and stayed healthy, and good tackles are hard to find. For all we know he'll still be playing pretty well two or three years from now. But this is a brutal game on guys' bodies, and if I were the Packers I'd be concerned how much longer he's going to hold up considering his past injuries. The end often comes quickly in this league, as it did for Lang.
    Hi Pete. love the ability to chat. Given that the Packers went out this past season and did a serious upgrade with the Smith Bros. along with Amos and the drafting of Savage plus the maturation of King and Alexander really improved the defense. So why did the D look so inept against SF? The D appeared to be made of swiss cheese as the 49's opened holes big enough for Mack trucks? Do we need more speed or help on the D line or is it poor coaching? Jimmy G wasn't pressured to do anything but hand off the ball the entire game. The second drive by SF ended with a 37 yard td run on a 3rd and 8. That play set the tone and the Pack never recovered. It seems to me we have the players but not the coaches. Your take please.
    Yeah, that honestly is the worst run defense I can remember by a Packers defense since I started covering the team, and to have it happen in the NFC championship game was astounding. They just didn't adjust. We don't have access to Pettine until the spring, so at that time we can find out what he thought. But he just didn't have any good adjustments, and it's hard to understand why. If nothing else, teams had been using that six-man front against that offense (like the Patriots in the SB against the Rams) and he didn't do that. Why not? What was there to lose? They must not have practiced it at all. Pettine prefers the less-is-more philosophy, don't overload the players with all these different calls, that way they know there assignments and can play fast. I see the value. But you have to have some fallbacks in your back pocket or you get run over like they did in that game, and you can't do anything about it. I think the scheme is very much an issue there, it has to become more run conscious, more run sound, even if that comes at the expense of rushing the passer.
    Hi Pete, Thanks for the chats! Maybe too early, but, who do you expect Year 2 jump besides Gary, who should show us a huge jump?
    Savage too, I have to think he learned a lot from this year. He had a really, really rough game against SF, took some really bad angles and missed tackles in the run game. He's not got an offseason to work in the system and absorb all the lessons from the season. I'd think the offense as a whole should improve in its second season in LaFleur's system. Rodgers should benefit from it, the OL, everybody. Look at the jump the Rams' offense made from Year 1 to Year 2 with McVay from '17 to '18. Sternberger is another possibility, he missed a big chunk of camp, came back, then missed the first half of the season. The offseason reps and then camp should help him a lot.
    Pete, when MM and LF bring in new offenses to a team they say it is like learning a new language. My question is why don’t coaches change their language to what the language the team has been using ? Isn’t easier for one coach to learn the old language than 53 guys learning a new one ?
    Thanks
    Interesting question, the only time I've heard of that is when Manning went to Denver, he basically brought his offense with him. Then again, that's not really what you're talking about, because everybody else had to learn the offense. It's a really big project to rework the language of an offense, and when LaFleur came in he was a new head coach who had so much on his plate -- hiring a staff, learning the roster, teaching his coaches the system, getting ready for the draft -- there's probably just not the time to makeover the playbook in an old language. And learning a new offense means more than just the language, though that's a huge part of it. There are all sorts of nuances in line splits, blocking angles, route details, techniques, that are a different in different systems. Language changes won't help there.
    Good afternoon Pete I had the feeling all season we were only seeing a small percentage of the offense and variations thereof that were available to LaFleur. Much had to do with the players lack of familiarity and some to the skillsets of the players. The second offseason allows Matt and Brian more opportunity to find the right pieces and skillsets. What positions on offense do you see them focusing on in the next few months that will allow LaFleur to utilize the whole offense?
    LaFleur said at his season-closing press conference that, for instance, he didn't get to very much up-tempo stuff this year, and that they'll be able to do more of that in Year 2. The personnel areas are what we've talked about: WR, TE, maybe RT. I'd think they'll want to add a running back, too. The run is so important to this scheme, and the Packers have too much riding on the precarious health of Aaron Jones. J Williams is a good football player but only an OK guy with the ball in his hands. Hard to know if Dexter Williams is going to make it, he couldn't get on the field at all even when J Williams got hurt. So I consider RB kind of an undersold need for this team. Finding another runner as good as Aaron Jones will be tough, but they really could use one who's better with the ball in his hands than J Williams. You can't have the offense crashing if Jones gets hurt.
    With all the talk about the possible need to replace Martinez, I have not seen any mention of Ty Summers. Supposedly he was Martinez's back up this year, he played the position in pre-season, and he surely is fast enough. Thoughts?
    Summers definitely is fast, he showed that in camp. I'm not sure whether he has the lateral quickness and change of direction speed you need in there. Not saying he doesn't and am not dismissing the possibility, but I can't say I saw it in preseason games last year.
    Hi Pete thanks for the chat. On Rogers 2nd quarter interception I never saw a good replay. I guess the intended target was Allison(?) and he never looked back. Anyone ask what went wrong their? Allison missed a read? Pass off target? At the time I still had some hope and that pretty much extinguished it.
    If I remember right, I think Rodgers said after the game that the throw was a little behind Allison, and that he and Allison read the play a little differently. From what I remember of the play, there were several defenders nearby, so in the end it probably was a bad decision by Rodgers.
    Hi Pete, In a normal year, the norm would be to let Bulaga's wear and tear walk in free agency,....... but with the packers current holes to fill at #2 WR, TE, 1-2 DL, ILB,.....along with Kevin King a FA in 21 and T. Williams nearing the end means draft another DB soon all means that draft alone can't fill those 6-7 need spots besides adding another tackle. So it looks logical to me to sign Bulaga , count on getting 3 starters from the draft and add 3 free agents. Not sure that is all doable with their salary cap. What looks logical to you and how many positions do you think the packers need to upgrade to take them to the next level?
    Yeah, those are the things Gutekunst has to weigh, and it really is a tough call with Bulaga. I don't know if they can get three starters from the draft, that's a lot. I'm thinking Gutekunst is going to have to do some really smart, mid-to-lower budget work in free agency, maybe a for a fallback veteran ILB, a run-stopping DL, a slot receiver or tight end, a fallback veteran RT if Bulaga doesn't re-sign. He might not have the money to sign anyone in the first day or two, like he did last year.
    I've already seen 8-10 mock drafts with I'm sure many more to come. The popular choice seems to be the WR from Colorado at 30 but I've also seen a WR from TCU, LSU, and Penn. St. Most are saying 5 WRs in the first round and I've seen seven different names mentioned so the Packers should have some good choices of WR at 30. I'm thinking expect the unexpected. How confident are you that the Packers go WR with there first pick? Thanks for the chat Pete.
    Not that confident. I mean, I'll be shocked if they don't take one in the first two or three rounds, and if I absolutely had to guess, I'd guess first round. But you never now. If this draft is as deep at WR as they say, maybe they can get a guy they really like in the second round, which would leave the first round for a DL or ILB. And what about QB? If there's a QB they really like available when they pick in R1, how do they not take him?
    Hi Pete When will we hear about decisions regarding Martinez Graham Bulaga Lewis?
    You never know exactly when, the news on those things probably will come out bit by bit over the next month. Teams can start negotiating with free agents March 16 and the market opens for signings March 18. I have to think the decision on Graham already is made, it's just a matter of when they cut him.
    I have a question regarding the coaching in the NFC Championship Game that nobody has seemed to talk about. What I don't understand is, with all of the experience the Packers staff has had with the 49ers staff (Matt LaFleur's entire professional career has been following Kyle Shanahan and Robert Saleh around and Mike Pettine had Kyle Shanahan as OC in Cleveland) how could their game plans (and adjustments) be seemingly so bad? Shouldn't that experience have at least led to knowing their tendencies etc.? I can see losing the regular season matchup, but by the time the NFC Championship Game rolled around they should have been able to see and anticipate things better.
    Yeah, you would think so. But we're also getting into areas that are beyond the level of our expertise. It could be Shanahan made some subtle adjustments in his run game, or the plays he had up for this game, that he hadn't shown much of. But yeah, I think we all wonder that. I still think it was mainly that Pettine's scheme just isn't as sound against the run as it needs to be, it's all about getting to the QB, and it was vulnerable to an outstanding run game. That obviously will have to change going forward.
    Pete you get a moment in the GMs chair. Pick #30 is on the clock. There's a WR, an ILB, and a TE on the board all with solid 1st rd. grades. There's also a QB you really like that won't be around when you pick at 62. Now the Bengals are on the phone offering the 33rd pick and their 4th rounder (the 1st pick on day three). Time to pull the trigger, what do you do?
    That's quite the scenario. If the Bengals didn't pick a QB in R1 (and maybe even if they did) I'd probably take the QB. I mean, I'd have to be convinced that teams that didn't take him earlier were missing on him and that I thought he could be a keeper, but yeah, I'd take the QB.
    Hi Pete-
    Any non-obvious guys catch your attention to get cut for cap reasons? We usually focus on guys like Graham and Taylor but would a guy like Linsley surprise you? They just resigned his back-up and Corey is in the top-7 in salary on the team. They've also mentioned that Jenkins best position might be at center. Thanks Pete!
    I've seen other people mention that, and you never know what they're thinking. They'd save about $8M in cap space, which is a lot. But my thought is, no. He's a good player, you're line played really well last season, and if you do that you instantly lose depth much of your depth on the OL, which was a strength this season with Patrick and Veldheer. So I wouldn't do it.
    Pete—I read the WR is a big strength of this draft, yet that’s also a position that usually takes a couple years to make a big impact. On that theory, I think it would make even more sense to make a run at Austin Hooper or Hunter Henry for a quicker offensive impact. What do you think?
    I've wondered that too, Hooper and Henry both are pretty good, and they're young (25). So something to think about for sure. Rookie WRs and TEs usually take a year to make much impact, though I'd say a guy like Deebo Samuel with SF has made a difference, and he was a second-round pick. So it can be done.
    There was a lot of talk about all the "love" in the locker room and it being a "player's led team". I'm concerned that the team might be swinging in the direction of the Ray Rhodes led team, where there weren't a lot of rules and accountability. Has that thought come up at all?
    It hasn't, and I can't say there's a country club feel to the team like there was with Rhodes. When Wolf hired Rhodes he thought he was getting this real tough coach, because Rhodes was a tough player and gave off that vibe, but in reality he was too lenient with guys as a head coach. I can't say I've gotten anything at all like that feel with LaFleur. Rhodes also was too unorganized for a head coach.
    Hi Pete, NO mention of Jared Veldheer. Isn't he a possibility to replace Bulaga if Bulaga does not resign with the Pack? I realize he is a free agent
    I don't think so. I asked an OL coach in the league about this last week, and he thought Veldheer played pretty well when he filled in for Bulaga after the concussion. But that was just finishing a game, and this coach, who had worked out Veldheer a couple years ago and thought he was getting pretty creaky even then, didn't think Veldheer would hold up physically if he had to play several weeks in a row, let alone a full season. I'm betting this coach is right on the money.
    What do you think prevented MVS from making the jump this year? Given his raw talent, off-season in the system, and work with Randy Moss, it really seemed like he was going to have a breakout season. Was an issue of route running, ability to pick up the offense, confidence, trust from Rodgers, or something else? I imagine the offense would have looked a lot different if it had another dynamic receiver to challenge defenses.
    Some guys just aren't instinctive, natural football players. Maybe that's the case with him. He gives off the vibe that he wants to be really good. Maybe that was mostly just talk. Maybe something clicks with him this offseason, though the way his playing time dropped as the season went on bodes poorly.
    This year it appeared the team practice less than any in history. While it may have helped in the prevention of injury. Could it be the cause of some of the inconsistency on Offense and issues on Defense.
    This will have to do it, other duties to get to -- I've done all the research and interviews and am taking this afternoon to write the first draft of the LeRoy Butler presentation I have to give at the Hall of Fame vote Saturday. Important, have to make sure I get it right. As for your question, that's at least a possibility and is part of what coaches have to weigh when deciding how much to practice. I don't claim to have the answer, but after all these years covering the league, I'm inclined to think that the trade-off for good health is worth it. The Packers' great health was a big reason they went as far as they did, and while luck undoubtedly was a factor, the practice schedule probably was too. With that, we'll call it another chat. Thanks to all for your questions and comments and for taking the time to stop by. We'll do it again next week, so if I didn't get to yours, try again then. And special thanks to our subscribers, without  you we couldn't cover this team as thoroughly as you do. Don't forget you can get the Packers News app for only $4.99 a month, that's all our Packers' news at a bargain price. Thanks again everyone, and we'll talk next week, when the NFL offseason will have officially started.
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