Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

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

    An unsound defense that constantly misses assignments -- same ol' story in GB, Pete?
    OK lot of questions already submitted, let's get right to it. The decline of the Packers' defense has been surprising at least to me. They started so well, and even now they're getting a decent pass rush just sending four. But they're giving up big plays and are spotty at best stopping the run. Savage hasn't been as good since his return from the ankle injury, King does OK but gets thrown at a lot, Lowry and Lancaster aren't playing as well as they did at the start of the season, and they're not dynamic at ILB. I'm still to figure out how much of it is the players, and how much the teaching/coaching. I was impressed with what Pettine and his staff did last year, but its been trending the wrong way for the last six weeks or so this season.
    Hi Pete, thanks for the chat. Is it time to press the panic button on Bakhtiari? He's getting beat on a regular basis and his holding calls are drive killers. Perhaps it is more than just him, the whole line is playing poorly the last couple games. Could the inexperienced oline coach have something to do with it?
    The holding penalties jump out  more to me. You're right, they are killers. I don't know if the refs are calling penalties on a technique that they didn't penalize in the past, or if Bakhtiari's not moving as well and thus holding. He's 28, I wouldn't think his feet would be an issue yet, that's one position where guys can play really well into their early 30s. I do suspect the inexperienced OL is an issue. The upside of having a young coaching staff is the hunger the bring to the job. The downside is adjustments, both in-game and during the season.
    YIKES! That was ugly. Issues everywhere. What's up with J K Scott? He looked like a pro bowl punter and then the last few weeks HS. Does this go back to that blocked punt? He seems to be hurrying and trying to overkick. Thoughts?
    Scott did look really good early, boomed some great punts. The last I think it's four weeks have been really shaky. He's a talented guy, the most talented punter the come through here since Hentrich. He had a good training camp. For now I'm still just going to say it's a slump, like the slumps kickers sometimes hit. But they need him to snap out of it. He contributed to a lot of SF's points last week, that can't continue.
    LA and SF feel like a pretty harsh reality check but the Packers are still 8-3 and the schedule gets much easier. I'll take it but I can't help but feel the Packers have been very lucky and that 8-3 could be 3-8 at this point. Your thoughts on that and assuming they make the playoffs will their luck run out? Hard to see them as a legit SB contender at this point.
    I don't know that I'd call them lucky to be 8-3, they played well often enough to win those games. They were fortunate in the sense of all those early home games and not having to face Mahomes. They caught the Vikings early when Cousins when struggling. They don't have a killer schedule, so 12-4 is very realistic, but they could get knocked out early in the playoffs even with that record. I try not to be a prisoner of what happened most recently, but after these two bad losses in three weeks it is tough to see them getting to the SB -- never say never, but I'm just not sure they can beat SF or NO in a playoff game, especially on the road. Still not sure about Minnesota, we'll get to see that in a head to head matchup in a few weeks. But their defense is trending the wrong way, and those two awful offensive games in three weeks are red flags.
    Pete - Please tell me someone is going to ask MLF about why we went with 11 personnel so much when two of our best playmakers are our RBs and SFs defense is designed to take away the passing game? Why not muscle up and grind it out until they're forced to get out of the 3 deep shell?
    It's interesting, I think most coaches look at each game as a separate entity, and what they do one week doesn't mean they'll do the same thing the next. They look at the defense and see different matchups they want to attack with and against. New England does that and it works because Belichick is just so good at identifying the best way to attack and then coming up with ways to do it. I don't know what LaFleur saw in SF that he thought would be the best way to go at them, but it was complete and total failure. He might have out-thought himself. I thought they probably just needed to do a lot of underneath throwing. Maybe playing Jones and Williams together occasionally, then splitting Jones out of the backfield because of his receiving skills to against run-defense personnel, would have worked too. I just wonder if he over-thought things. He also basically admitted yesterday that they probably have emphasized Adams a little too much int he game plans since his return.
    Given the lack of production by our receivers, I wonder why the Packers aren't playing Sternberger. He could give them some speed down the middle. I worry about our receiving corp, and believe that we have to invest several high draft picks at that position in the upcoming draft. Do you think some of the younger WR could still develop or is it time to move on?
    I have to admit Sternberger was a surprise when he blocked so well in regular playing time a couple weeks ago. With Tonyan back playing last week, they left Sternberger inactive. I guess they don't think they have room for four TEs on the game-day roster. But I have to agree that he might help them, especially because he blocked surprisingly well, that was supposed to be the weak part of his game. I'll be very curious to see if he's active this week and whether they'll consider going with four TEs on game day. Yes they need to invest a higher pick at WR, though I still wouldn't rule out the younger guys improving some. Allison seems to have leveled off in his third year, but Valdes-Scantling and Lazard still might improve. They have their limitations -- Valdes-Scantling is more a straight-line guy, and Lazard lacks speed -- but they are big targets and still only in their second season out of college. They also have St. Brown, who was lost for the season in camp. But yeah, I'd be looking for them to draft a receiver in the first two or three rounds. Or who knows, if there's a decent one available maybe Gutekunst will go sign one in free agency.
    Isn’t it time to sign a real punt returner? My old neighbor Marcus Sherrels must still be better than what we have been getting. Tremon Smith may have speed, but he doesn’t appear to have the quick first step that is required for punt returners. Couldn’t they cut Ryan Grant to free up a roster spot? He’s apparently never going to see the field.
    It's definitely time to address the return game in a meaningful way. That minus-11 in punt returns for the season is absolutely mind-blowing. I don't know if there's anyone out there they could get now who'd be worth it, but they need to invest at least a fourth- or fifth-round pick in a return guy. Agree on Smith, he has the speed for KOR but is not a punt returner.
    Pete - can you figure out why they continue to waste snaps on Graham and Lewis. They both are on a decline. Tonyan and Sternberger may not turn out to be anything but at least they might get better and Sternberger should get better or we wasted a 3d round pick.
    Lewis has blocked well in the run game, and that's helped the passing game with play-action and going against run-stopping defensive personnel when he's on the field. But he's not much of a receiving threat, that's for sure. I have trouble seeing them making Graham or Lewis inactive, but maybe it's time to do that, or at least get all four TEs active and get Sternberger some more playing time and target him a couple times. I guess one question is how well he knows the offense after he missed so much time, but at least he blocked pretty well when he played a couple weeks ago.
    Hi Pete,, in your opinion what are the weak positions in the team?
    Please rank them in order of necessity? Obviously can't afford all of them.
    (Is there any hope for Burks?)
    ILB, DL, WR, TE. I don't know if there's hope for Burks or not. The fact that he can't get on the field in his second season despite their glaring need for help at ILB is obviously a bad sign. I know he missed crucial practice time in his first two training camps, but still.
    Pete,, explain why a 2 back set with WRs Adams and Lazard with TE Tonyan won't work? Tonyan on right side to chip or block, when facing a Defensive line like SF use Lewis or Vitale instead of Tonyan.
    Lots of options with that group. Sit Allison and Grahem
    I'd think everything has to be on the table. Maybe it's just as simple as playing the way they did with Adams out -- spreading the ball around, more short quick throws, emphasizing getting the ball to Jones in the passing game.
    Pete, while performing a stunt, I observed the 49er defensive lineman (#1)grab and hold the Packers offensive lineman, which prevented same from sliding over to pick-up the stunting 49er (#2), looping behind the first. That’s holding, is it not? I saw it on several occasions, which leads me to believe that it’s coached. Why wasn’t it flagged more often?
    I know they were penalized for that once. I didn't notice that, but if it was egregious and they play again in the playoffs it's something LaFleur might alert officials to.
    Happy thanksgiving Pete. How many different schemes goes Pettine give the defense ? And as a follow up , why after pre season practice and 11 reg. games are defensive players still confused and out of position?
    Last year Pettine said that one of the things he concluded during his two years away from being with a team was that simpler is better. He thought he had too many calls on his call sheet when he was Cleveland's coach, and that his players were thinking too much and it slowed them down. So he goes with a less is more approach. So I'm not sure it's that complicated, relatively speaking. The blown assignments on the 61-yard TD to Kittle was really surprising, because (as LeRoy Butler explained in his video breakdown with Tom Silverstein this week) both Amos and Savage blew the coverage. The Packers were in quarters, which meant the two CBs had the outside quarter deep, and the two safeties the inside quarters. But both Savage and Amos came up to cover a receiver going across the middle. Amos has been really solid most of the time, and Savage supposedly was ahead of the curve as far as a rookie understanding the defense. So that one was really surprising and basically finished off the Packers on Sunday night.
    Thanks for the chat Pete.
    Regarding our problem covering tight ends, you and Eric both mentioned getting no jams at the line of scrimmage, and I agree this is an issue, but think the bigger problem is lack of athleticism on the inside. They have gotten little out of Burkes, and Martinez just can't run with anyone. Would they be better off going single safety deep and devoting Amos to tight end coverage or does that leave them too vulnerable on the back end? Your thoughts please, and really like the columns you and Eric collaborate on, great insights.
    The deeper we get into scheme stuff in these questions, the more I'm out of my area of expertise. Agreed that the lack of athleticism in the middle of the defense is probably the biggest issue, as you say Martinez just can run with these athletic tight ends. They've got to do something to stop these TEs from killing them, that's for sure. The problem is, they've had issues stopping the run, too, that can end up compromising you in other ways.
    Hi Pete: If you had to provide a grade to the following starters, with just 1/3 of regular season remaining, how would you grade: Geronimo Allison, Jimmy Graham, Elgton Jenkins, Kevin King, Jaire Alexander? My grades, (F, D, A, B-, C)....thank you.
    Allison: D
    Graham: D or D-minus
    Jenkins: B-minus
    King: C or C-plus
    Alexander: B-plus
    Regardless of all the Rodgers apologists, it’s become obvious he is a middle of the pack, game manager quarterback. His number the last 5 years prove it. He is who he is. The problem is that he’s not acting that way. He still thinks he’s a difference maker. Despite a new coaching staff we still see the same problems- holding ball too long, locking onto Davante (take a look at 4th and 8 in the 4th quarter where two players are open early for a first down and instead he takes a sack) delay of game penalties as he continues to think he’s the smartest guy in the room. Only now there is no Mike McCarthy to blame. Only one common denominator- Rodgers. Had Mitch Trubisky put up Rodgers numbers from Monday night he would be shouldering all the blame and pundits would be lining up to tag him as a bust. But because it’s Rodgers we just look for other excuses. And I realize the offensive line play was poor, but a study of the film shows at least 2 sacks are his fault and receivers were open early that he passed up. Just throw the damn ball and run the offense ! Let playmakers make plays! Without being just another Rodgers apologist, is it time we have a serious discussion about whether Rodgers is the right QB for this system?
    I guess first I'd be curious to know what you were saying/thinking about Rodgers during the four games they won with Adams out. I thought he played at a high level in those games. Now, none of those defenses was at SF's level, but he also was missing his best receiver and put up a lot of points and yards, and was very much in command of the offense. Agree on the let-playmakers-make-plays. I realize the Packers don't have a super-talented WR corps, but I'm still not sure it's as bad as many fans/pundits seem to think after the two horrendous games against LAC and SF. So yeah, some of that is on Rodgers, to not think he has to make play after play, let other guys do it. That's what they did in the games Adams was out, and it worked. But he's still capable of making special plays and special throws, too. I'm not ready to dismiss all those games where the offense showed improvement week by week until the Chargers loss. I'd say let's see how the season plays out, but really NYG and WR on tap the next couple weeks, there's probably not much to learn from those matachups. The game that will be most telling is MV, though the Bears too because for all their issues they still have a talented D.
    Can we please stop the nonsense about Rodgers being an MVP candidate? He's having an okay season, but that's it. Long gone are the days when he could lift a franchise into contention for a championship. His accuracy has fallen off and his quickness in he pocket is diminished. He can still make special plays sometimes, but not like the younger Rodgers could. At more than $30 million a year that Packers need more than mediocrity; it's starting to feel like Rodgers is an albatross around the franchise's neck. Earlier this season you recommended that the team draft a QB with a high pick. Do you still think that's a good idea? I sure do.
    I thought in that stretch while Adams was out he played like an MVP candidate, and plenty of national pundits were saying that too, he was on the list of four or five six candidates everyone was naming. You're right that he's not as mobile as he was several years ago, no question about that. He has to adjust to that. No matter how things turn out this year, yes, I think QB has to be on the table starting in the first round. It's very much true that the hardest time to find one is when you need one. You can always adjust to the circumstances down the road -- if Rodgers becomes Brady and plays well into his early 40s, you can trade the drafted QB. But drafting one high has to at least be on the table starting in next spring's draft. Favre was 36 when the Packers drafted Rodgers; Rodgers turns 36 in December. Brady was 37 when the Patriots drafted Garoppolo.
    The defense struggled mightily last year. The expectations this year with the free agent additions, draft, and another year in Pettine's scheme we would see a marked improvement. After a solid start this defense has continued to regress. I see a better rush but last years issues have returned. Can't stop the run, poor tackling, blown coverages, can't cover a TE. Is/should Pettine be on the hot seat?
    Is Pettine on the hot seat? Maybe. LaFleur has no history as a head coach, so we don't know how he handles these things. So there's really no way to know. I thought he did well last year with what he had to work with. The D started so well this season but has been trending the wrong way for a while now.
    Think LaFleur made three egregious decisions while the game was still in hand. First, he should have kicked the 45 yard field goal to make it 10-3 and get points on the board. Second, in going for it on fourth down in that situation, he called an incredibly stupid running play that had little chance of success against the 49ers defensive line. Third, he failed to challenge the play where Jimmy Graham may have caught the long third down pass from Rodgers. Game was 10-0 at that point (should have been 10-3) and a successful challenge there has the Packers in scoring position again. Thoughts on each of those decisions by LaFleur?
    I said in the moment he should go for the first down. I thought he needed to accrue points because they were going to be tough to come by against that D, and fourth-and-one was short enough to go for it. When he brought Jones in after the TO, I thought it would be a great time for a play-action pass because the 49ers would assume Jones was getting the ball. Seems like everybody thought he should have challenged the Graham play, but I'm very skeptical it would have been overturned. With the way they officiate catches, where the guy has to complete the catch by holding onto it after he hits the ground, I think they would have let that call stand. You can make a decent argument that it was the first half, so losing the timeout wouldn't have hurt much. But I personally very much doubt they would have overturned it.
    Good morning Pete and Happy Thanksgiving! Despite the awful showing in SF, the Packers can still control their own destiny at this point in the season with 5 games left all are winnable except for Minn. A good friend commented that whoever wins the NFC North between GB and Minn will host the other in the 1st round of the playoffs...? If so would you define that as a "successful season" for Green Bay? And a quick question about the defense...Some media-types have called the Packers defense "soft" and that Mike Pettine might be the problem. Do you think the Packers have a "physical defense?" They're certainly not in the league of being "physical" like SF, BALT or even the LA Chargers. Your thoughts? Thank you.
    Before the season I would have thought a playoff appearance was a decent year, considering they had a rookie head coach and all. But after the 8-2 start, a one-and-done playoff appearance seems light. I wonder if the reason the defense seems soft is the lack of explosiveness at ILB. That might account for it as much as anything.
    Is Allison the biggest disappointment this season? Scheme, injury? What's the reason for his dropoff?
    I don't know why he's dropped off. He looked pretty promising early last season before the injury (I think it was core muscle) ended his season. He had a relatively quiet camp and just hasn't done much of anything this year. Several drops, which I don't remember being an issue his first two years.
    Hello sir! For those of us ready to call Rashan Gary another wasted 1st round bust, can you provide any insight that may lead us to believe the guy is on the verge of breaking out? Corse can't break out if you don't pay but.....
    OK, this will have to be the last question of the pre-Thanksgiving Day chat. So many questions, and yes, lots to wonder about this team after two awful performances in three games. Thanks to all for sharing your thoughts and questions. As for Gary, the thing that stands out most I guess is that he hasn't shown noticeable improvement during the season. That would concern me if I were the Packers. Maybe he's showing more in practice than he has in the games, but he just doesn't seem to be any better now than he was in early September. If I were them I'd try to see if he could help them some way other than just OLB. As I've mentioned here previously, maybe play him with his hand on the ground on early downs, see if he can be disruptive as a run defender. And with that we'll call it another chat. Look forward to chatting again next week. The home stretch is here, there will be plenty to talk about. Just want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! And safe travels for those going on the road.
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