Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

Packers chat with Pete Dougherty

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

    Pete – what is the inside story about OT Veldheer? At 32 could he replace Beluga? If not what a great asset to have a back up that can play both outside tackle spots. With Aaron Rodgers as our quarterback Wouldn’t you view the third tackle as almost a starting position in terms of importance?
    OK everybody, let's dive right in. I'm not sure on this one, not yet anyway. Bulaga has had a really, really good season, so even at 30 (31 in March) he's probably going to be expensive. So this is something the Packers have to think about. Veldheer has filled in really well, no doubt. There's still probably a difference between doing it for a half-game here and full game there, and doing it for 16 games. I'm not sure how Veldheer would hold up in that role, but it's not like it's something to just rule out. He might be able to. Or maybe if they don't think they can afford Bulaga they bring back Veldheer and draft a T in the first three or maybe four rounds, and Veldheer is the fallback if the rookie isn't ready to play. I'm just not sure on whether his body will hold in the long term (ie, a full season). But he is part of the big decision they have to make on Bulaga.
    Pete – I’d love to see your insight on where Gary will play next year? We can’t afford him as a back up linebacker can we? Could he play tackle?
    That's what I've been wondering, and I've kind of thought all along he might end up a tackle in the nickel and dime. When I asked Pettine about whether Gary could play in there full time, he made it sound like he thought Gary was better suited outside because of his size. But I still wonder if Gary can add 10 pounds and play inside. He's more a power than speed player anyway. It's not like it's a disaster if he doesn't move inside -- if he's a good player there will be ways to get him on the field, both in rotation and special packages, to make it work out fine. You can never have too many pass rushers, and Pettine has been using that three OLB, two DL personnel group a little more late in the season (usually with Fackrell, not Gary). In rotation at OLB he'd allow the Smiths a little more rest. But yeah, I still wonder if he's a little out of position at OLB and would be suited at play DT.
    For years we heard the line "players, not plays". Over this season and especially the last month LaFleurs plays and scheme have really started to show and make a difference. Seattle absolutely knew they had to take away Adams and they couldn't do it. Since the 49ers basically runs the same offense do you expect them to be able to do what the Seahawks couldn't? Thanks for the chat Pete.
    The LaFleur-Shanahan connection makes this matchup especially interesting, because each knows so much about how the other views offensive football. They could think themselves into knots saying, "I know he knows I like to do this, so I'm going to do this, only he knows that I know that he knows ..." So yeah, Shanahan and Saleh are going to know some things about LaFleur and the scheme that make LaFleur's job tougher. Cuts both ways thought. LaFleur knows Shanahan.
    Read where the Browns told perspective coaches they would have to meet with the analytics dept. on Mondays and on Fridays coach would have to present that weeks game plan to the owner and analytics dept. to "discuss it". Also heard Stephanski (new coach) would be interviewing perspective GM candidates this week. I might be old school but this seems beyond crazy to me. Your thought on that mess Pete?
    I read the same thing. In their press conference yesterday Haslem and Stefanski said the coach doesn't have to submit his game plan to the analytics people or the owner, though the owner did say he and the coach will meet on Mondays to discuss the previous day's game. I'm not a big fan of the coach hiring the GM either but some teams have done it and are having success, most notably Kansas City. I still like the streamlined GM is the boss and hires the coach approach, but there's more than one way to do it.
    Earlier this season I saw Bahktiari's reduced effectiveness and holding penalties as possibly the sign of an athlete in decline...unless he had a hidden injury. Last six or seven weeks, though, he's mostly come back to his old self. Do you know of any injury that he was working through earlier?
    Yeah, he just said last week that early in the year he still had a hip flexor injury that was a carryover from late last season, and it took him about half this season to get back to full strength. I thought he was playing OK early in the season except for the penalties, though he has been playing at a really high level more recently.
    Pete, I keep hearing all this hubbub about the Packers wanting payback from their loss earlier this season and the '49ers being confident from their victory. Doesn't that all go out the window in the playoffs and it really comes down to talent and execution? It certainly looked that way in the Lions game.
    As much as I love the Pack I think the Niners have the talent...
    The 49ers have a lot of talent. I haven't seen/heard much about the Packers wanting payback, but we can be pretty sure they won't go into this game overconfident, right? And maybe San Francisco will even if the coach has warned them that teams that have beaten somebody by 25 points or more and faced that team again in the playoffs are only 16-9. Yeah, it comes down to execution, but what happened the last game might affect the level of commitment in preparation during the week, which can show up in the execution on Sunday.
    Over the season we've heard about the Matt LaFleur and Kyle Shanahan connection and the similarity in their offenses. It seemed in the first meeting that the 49ers had the answers and weren't surprised by anything the Packers did. I don't know how much the 49ers did that surprised the Packers but they weren't able to stop much. Do you think the Packers will be better prepared to make stops on D and better prepared to keep the 49ers off balance with their O this time around? I'm thinking at least in his mind LaFleur and Pettine been preparing for the rematch for the last 6 weeks.
    They should be better prepared. How could they not? LaFleur was clearly outcoached in that first game, whether it was because Shanahan knew him so well or he just was thrown off by coaching against his good friend and mentor (Shanahan) as well as another good friend (Saleh) and his brother, or who knows what. But whatever it was, he was out-coached. I suspect that really stuck in his craw, and I have to think he's approaching this week with a vengeance as far as prep time and film study and thinking things through.
    Thanks for the chat, Pete. What was the illness going around the Packers locker room? Flu? I'd think the Packers would require their players to get flu shots three months ago to avoid/minimize the risk of players getting the flu. Any insight you can share?
    I don't know that it was all flu. Bulaga, for instance, had a 24-hour bug, at least that's what LaFleur said. Yes, I think it's standard that all NFL teams get flu shots. But as we all know, getting a flu shot does not guarantee avoiding the flu. There are many different strains.
    What do you think the Packers can do scheme-wise to defend Kittles? More Campbell?
    One of the more important matchups in this game, that's for sure. I'd have to think Campbell will be a part of that plan, as will Savage and Amos. Good luck. Kittle is probably the best tight end in the league. Maybe they'll try something they haven't done much of this year and hit him at the LOS. The drawback is that can slow a guy if he's rushing the passer, but in this case maybe it would be worth it.
    Hi, Pete. Why did we win the fumble challenge but lose a timeout? On the disputed Graham first down, why didn’t they spot the ball and bring in the chains?
    Yeah, that rule is a little strange. They NFL requires that they win the entire challenge, not just whether or not it's a fumble, but also the recovery. Just like if you challenge the spot, and they change the spot but you're still short of the first down, you lose the challenge even though you were right that the spot was wrong. That strikes me as a bad way to do it, but that's the rule. On the Graham play, they must have been able see by the lines on the field that the spot the Packers had was a first down.
    It looked during the game and from what I have been reading that by the 2nd half our defensive linemen were fatigued chasing Wilson around the field. It begs the question: Where was our first round pick Rashan Gary? It would seem that the athleticism that got him drafted would have been an asset at that point.
    Yeah, he played only 10 snaps. Everything was on the line, so that tells you where they think he's at. They preferred having Fackrell (34 snaps) be the primary rotational guy and the Smiths play a lot rather than mix Gary in there regularly.
    Pete, I'm pretty sure the team has yet to run a trick play this year. I'm feeling one this Sunday. Any chance?
    They would have the element of surprise. I just don't know who it would be with. I don't know whether any of their WRs or RBs can throw the ball very well.
    Since the Hall of Fame selection committee doesn’t meet until the day before the Super Bowl, how did two former coaches already get selected?
    They're doing two classes this year as part of the celebration for the 100th anniversary of the NFL. One class was picked by what they're calling a blue-ribbon panel (former GMs, some NFL historians and a few regular HOF voters). That class consists of 10 seniors candidates (players retired for more than 25 years), three contributors (GMs, commissioners, etc.) and two coaches. The panel voted on that class late last week and announced it today -- the HOF announced Johnson and Cowher over the weekend, presumably for the publicity because both are on NFL pregame shows. Then the regular class will be chosen the normal way, at the HOF selectors meeting the day before the Super Bowl in Miami. We hear presentations on and discuss all 15 candidates, cut the list to 10, then five, then vote up or down on the final five, with 80 percent yes required to get in. The results are announced that night on the NFL honors show.
    Thanks for the chat Pete. OK, please talk me down from this illusional cliff I am on. I seem to think that because the offense seems more comfortable,Aaron is playing better, the defense is defending the run and the tight end better, we are getting after the passer more effectively, the secondary feels tighter, we have a bit of a return game, the oline is gelling, A Jones is more involved, and MLF has the jitters out of the way, that we actually stand a chance in this game. Please slap me back to reality. Go Pack!
    This game is a tough matchup, the 49ers have an excellent DL, which will make it tough for the Packers to run and can pressure the QB without blitzing. But as you suggest, the Packers have played better the last month or so. Of course they have a chance. They're the underdog for good reason, but if they can get off to a good start, for instance, who knows how that might change things? Just look at Tennessee-Baltimore. I'm thinking the Packers have about a one in three chance. Now, I thought that about the Vikings (assuming Cook played) and was wrong, the 49ers dominated them (worse than the score suggested). But I think the Packers are better than the Vikings -- the Vikings' OL is bad, whereas the Packers' is pretty good, and their tackles give them at least a chance to block Bosa and Ford.
    Earlier in the season the Packers were using Jones and Williams alot out of the backfield with swing passes, screens and one on one matchups against Linebackers. The last several games there have been none of these. Any idea why?
    I don't know, that's game-plan stuff and they're pretty tight lipped about that. But I do wonder if we'll see more of it this week against SF's talented DL. Also wonder if we'll see Jones and Williams on the field together a few snaps, like earlier in the year, or Jones and Ervin, as they've done a little more of lately.
    Hi Pete,

    Everyone accepts the adage "It is better to get rid of a player a year to early than a year too late". What goes unsaid is that if you get rid of a player a year too early, you have made an opponent better and your own team worse. In our case, Randall Cobb would easily be our second best receiver and be a big help towards winning the game on Sunday. My questions are, why is this conventional wisdom never challenged, and do you think the Packers have the offensive firepower to keep up with the 49ers?

    Thank you, and have a great week.
    I'd say because going the year early than year late route is playing the percentages. I first learned about it hearing and reading about former St. Louis Cardinals baseball GM Branch Rickey. One of the deals he did was trade Dizzy Dean to the Cubs -- Rickey thought Dean's injury problems were going to be an issue. The Cubs were his greatest rival, and Dean had a good first year in Chicago. I'm sure Rickey caught hell for that. Then Dean fell off a cliff. So Rickey acquired Cubs prospects for a guy who had one good year left in him. The Packers were smart to move on from Cobb in my opinion. Maybe Cobb would be their second-best receiver, but would he really have made any difference? I doubt it. They needed to get Valdes-Scantling and Allison on the field. Now, both those guys have had disappointing seasons, but the Packers had to get them on the field to find out. And Allison did have a big catch last week. We all have our opinions on this, and I'm sure plenty of people agree with you that they should have kept Cobb. But I think they did what they had to do. His health was too precarious, and he'd lost explosiveness. That's my take.
    Hey Pete, it’s a good day. What’s your opinion of the two young tight ends? Sternberger and Tonyan, Same size and tonyan is faster plus Tanyon was a three-year college quarterback if trick punts are wanted. Will they become a two headed monster next year in your opinion?
    I really thought Tonyan would do more than he has this year, that he'd improve a lot as the season went on and maybe even be the starter by now. He's 25, so there's still time/room for improvement, but the clock is ticking now. Hard to know with Sternberger, he missed a couple weeks of camp and then the first half of the season. He blocks better than I would have guessed based on the scouting reports on him coming out of college. So that's a good sign. Tight ends generally don't contribute much as rookies, so he could make a nice jump next year. I'm sure he has some ability, he's a third-round pick. But I really don't have anything insightful to add, I just have no idea whether he's going to be good. I could still see them drafting a TE high next year, or signing one in free agency, put it that way.
    Hello Pete, Well if you would have said 19 weeks ago the Packers would be one win away from Super Bowl LIV that would have been a good bet in VEGA$ where the Packers opened the season at 19-1 odds to win the 2020 Super Bowl! Being more realistic than optimistic, but not to sound pessimistic and being a BIG Packers fan, I just don't see David (Green Bay) slaying Goliath (SF) on Sunday, but with all that's been written by you and your colleagues about the game so far is there any one intangible or needle in the hay stack that hasn't been written about this game where you could see Green Bay winning? Thank you.
    The things I think about for GB to win are the OL having an exceptional game, with Bulaga and Bakhtiari preventing Bosa and Ford from blowing up the passing game; Rodgers making a couple special plays; and/or maybe Garoppolo throwing an INT or two. Garoppolo had a really good game in the first meeting but has his moments where he makes bad decisions -- in the first Seattle-SF game this year, the Seahawks dropped three or four INTs down the stretch, and I remember reading early in camp that Garoppolo threw five INTS in team drills in one practice. So he could hit a rough stretch. The 49ers' run game is really good too, the Packers will have to stop the run (or at last limit the damage) better than they have most of the season. I'd think at least a couple of those four things would have to happen for the Packers to win.
    Pete thanks for the chat. I feel like Lefluer isn’t getting enough credit for the health of the team. MM teams seemed to be chronically fighting soft tissue problems, particularly hamstring issues, despite his claims of adjustment. Since the medical and strengrh staff is basically the same, doesn’t it suggest that ML is way ahead of where MM was on this topic and that it might not have been just MM’s offense that was stale?
    He definitely has shorter practices -- his camp practices on average were about 15 minutes shorter than McCarthy's. And in-season it sounds like part or most of his Wednesday practices as the season went on were walk-throughs, as well as a couple periods on Fridays. So there's a decent or even good chance that's contributed to the good health. The downside of that is fewer reps in practice, but health is so important in the NFL that it's probably worth it. Luck is a factor too, we can't discount that.
    Hi Pete. Thanks, as always, for entertaining our questions with the chat. Curious if you see anyone in this offensive group stepping it up and being an "X factor" on Sunday? I don't think anyone in the WR group, outside of Adams, was targeted more than once last week. I can't imagine SF is too concerned with anyone other than Adams in that group. I like the little wrinkles that Tyler Ervin has been able to mix in. Do you see him playing a larger role this week? Any word on Lazard's ankle? Any chance Raven Greene gets activated? Sure hope they've been doing a lot of hand washing in Green Bay this week!
    I just checked on Twitter from the reporters who were at practice, and it sounds like Lazzard was working off to the side today. That's probably not the worst sign, at least he can do something on the field even if it's not practicing with the team. I don't have any feel for what they're going to do with Greene. He's missed so much football being out the last for months it would be tough to throw him in there in any significant role, but you never know what they're thinking or what they see on the practice field. It's basically impossible to pick the X factor guy. Nobody has done anything with any consistency other than Adams and Lazard to a much lesser degree. From what I see, it's just a week to week thing. They just need somebody, whether it's Lazard or Allison or Valdes-Scantling or Graham or Tonyan to make a couple plays to go with Adams and Jones. Guessing which one it might be seems impossible to me.
    I'm thankful for the historic year we've had with a first year coach, but am I being too pessimistic in saying I think we're overmatched against the niners? It seems they have the magic formula of a great running game and insane defensive front four that wreaks havoc on what we try to do. Do we have a shot?
    That is why the 49ers have been the best team overall in the NFC. That and Garoppolo is a decent QB.
    Who is your favorite player of all time to interview and why?
    Favre, Butler, Rodgers, Sean Jones, Santana Dotson, Woodson, Tramon Williams. All smart and interesting. Lang too. I don't talk to Bakhtiari much but he seems pretty interesting too.
    Tonyan PASSING back ground. Set HS passing records, 3 yrs Div 1 passing experience. Fast for a TE, 4.5 40 time. Perfect to be a Tayson Hill type player on STs. Punter protector
    That's right, Tonyan went to Indiana State as a QB. Thanks Ralph.
    Speaking of Fackrell, how does a guy go from 10 sacks one year to practically nothing the next year?
    He played less and they blitzed less. A few things broke his way last year. But I have to admit, he's a better play than I thought, he's found a role in the league.
    Hi Pete! Why do teams use the so called “Prevent Defense” when in fact it doesn’t do a whole lot of preventing? I’d rather go with 9 DB’s and the Smith Brothers and take my chances.
    They do it so they don't have plays happen like when Alexander gave up a long TD to Cooper when the Packers were up a couple scores late in the game against Dallas. But we all get your point, it often fails.
    How come we haven't seen Jones split out wide since the KC game? Seems to be a mismatch just begging to re-happen
    OK, this has to be the last question, several press conferences I have to get to, lots of activity out here at Lambeau today. One reason might be teams are matching up DBs with him instead of LBs, so the matchup isn't as good. But that still has to help with matchups elsewhere. From what I've seen -- I don't have numbers to back it up -- they've been splitting Jones out the same as always but they haven't been throwing it to him in those situations as much as in the middle of the season. Maybe because he's being covered by DBs. And with that we'll call it another chat. Thanks all for coming by and sharing your interesting thoughts and questions. Enjoyable chatting with you as always. Thanks especially to our subscribers, who make all our coverage possible, and remember if you're not a subscriber you can get the Packers News app for $4.99 a month, it's a really good deal. We'll chat again next week regardless of Sunday's outcome. Until then, take care everyone and enjoy the game.
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