Before we start, just to let you know, with the short week of a Thursday night game I'll be going only an hour today on the chat, lots to get done before Thursday. With that, let's dive in. When you're picking No. 12, I think you're aiming higher than that, which the Packers did with Gary, that was an upside pick, they were betting on him blossoming in the NFL. Now if for whatever reason he busts and lasts only four years, then sure, a Hawk-like career would have been better. But it looks to me like they saw upside and are thinking Gary can be really good, and it's still plenty early enough for that to be a possibility regardless of what anyone thinks of his performance in camp and the preseason games He's flashed ability in practice, had some good rushes in team drills. In the preseason games he showed an explosive first step but didn't make any plays.
I don't know what Gutekunst thought of Burns going into the draft. I thought he was one of a handful of guys Gutekunst might take, though the scouts I talked to about him had mixed evaluations. I remember one really liked him and thought he could be a really explosive outside rusher, another thought he'd bust. I haven't seen anything about him and didn't know he had four sacks in the preseason. Though that's impressive, we should still wait to see what he does in real games going against starters for 60 minutes. But if he's a double-digit sack guy as a rookie, that would be really impressive, you don't see that much. It's just really hard to say anything worth hearing until we see how things go for a year or two.
There's a flip side to this too that warrants consideration. To be good in personnel you have to make ruthless decisions, and I'm sure you've heard the axiom about better to get rid of a player a year early than a year late. More mistakes are made by keeping guys too long than not long enough. Lombardi was constantly getting rid of guys who helped him win, until the very end, his last team was getting old. Gutekunst made proactive decisions with Nelson, Matthews and Daniels. We can safely conclude he made the right call with Nelson. Matthews and Daniels are to be determined. I thought maybe they'd bring Matthews back as an ILB at a cheaper price, but I have to say I'm not going to going to rip him for not even offering a contract. He decided the defense needed to get younger and faster, and that the money saved on Matthews will be better used down the road (remember cap space rolls over to the next season), so he thanked Matthews and moved on. As I've said in these chats for a month, I probably would have kept Daniels at $8.1M for the pass-rushing depth, but I get why Gutekunst moved on there, too. Now, to your point, time could prove that Gutekunst made the wrong call on Matthews and Daniels. But Gutekunst is actually following a long-time, hard-line personnel approach that I think could just as easily be interpreted as a good sign that he's heartless enough to be good at this job. His decisions might be wrong, but IMO they're not clueless.
I haven't seen the Bears picked last anywhere, but to some degree that's the NFL. And the Packers are especially difficult to forecast because of the coaching change. That's just a major wild card. Remember, they were 8-8 in the first season for each of their last three coaches, and all three and an established Brett Favre at QB, so it wasn't like that position was a problem. I do wonder if the Bears are going to miss Vic Fangio at DC. He's as respected a D-coordinator as there is in the league. So that could take a little bite out of that defense, though they still have really good personnel on that side of the ball. I have to make my picks for our website as soon as I finish this chat, and I'm probably going to pick the Bears to win the division. I would have trouble picking the Packers to win the division. With a new coach putting in a new offensive system and new way of running the team, and with the new coach likely to experience growing pains, I wouldn't bet on the Packers winning 10 or 11 games. Not saying it can't happen or that it would be a miracle, it would be only a mild surprise. They do have Rodgers at QB, after all. But I just wouldn't bet on it.
I'm going to pick the Bears. Home game for Chicago, outstanding defensive personnel, Packers have a new coach and new offense.
Going into free agency I thought Gutekunst would be active, but I really thought he'd spread the money around, sign maybe eight, nine guys, maybe even more, at a wide variety of price points, and try to upgrade at least a little at a number of positions. He went for a small number of big-ticket guys instead. A higher risk there, because if any one signing doesn't pan out well -- especially with either of the Smiths -- that's a lot lost in one big chunk of money. But he went more for upside and tried to mitigate the risk by signing guys who were all players going into their fifth season, so they were young for UFAs. I would have been more inclined to sign a running back than a WR if I were him -- I might have gone after Tevin Coleman, who left Atlanta for San Francisco. With Jones' injury history, I think they needed another pretty good running back. That's probably the thing I'd question more than any other, that they should have done more at running back.
I've gone back and forth on this over the years, but yeah, I'm still inclined to think guys like Rodgers shouldn't play at all, or at most maybe a couple series, in the preseason. The risk-reward just isn't there. I think Brady played a couple series this year. I thought I read where Rodgers was one of four starting QBs not to play at all. Maybe not playing will hurt the offense in the opener -- it's not so much that Rodgers needs the work, but that everyone needs to the work with him -- but after the opener I have trouble thinking it's an issue. And I'm still not sure how much it matters even in the opener when you have an experienced QB like Rodgers. This year might be a little different because of the new offense. But overall, playing any starters in preseason games, the risk-reward isn't real good. To get them hurt in a game that doesn't matter is a killer. Yes, you can get hurt in practice, but the odds are lower. I don't think him and these other QBs not playing is a ploy to get the CBA changed, but it is a sign that four preseason games are too many. I think there were a couple teams -- the Rams for one -- that I think didn't play any starters in the preseason.
I'd think it will take at least a week for him. Not sure if he'll be ready to play against the Bears.
Premier left tackles are extremely valuable and really hard to find, I doubt if I would have been open to a deal. It would have had to have an outrageous offer. He'd be pretty close to untouchable if I were the Packers.
You are correct. It tells you they were going to cut McCray, and getting a flip-flop of seventh-round picks in return was better than nothing. In fact it very well might end up being nothing. The Packers get the higher of the two teams' seventh-rounders, so if the Packers have a worse record than the Browns they'll already have the higher pick.
I can't say I remember any bad snaps in camp during FG drills.
Not sure on this, but there are a couple guys that maybe could get into that area. Maybe Za'Darius Smith, maybe Jaire Alexander. I wouldn't rule out Savage, though he missed a lot of camp because of oral surgery and I can't say he made many eye-catching plays in practice. I wouldn't predict that Valdes-Scantling will be Pro Bowl contender, but he might end up making some big plays. Kevin King is always a possibility if he can stay on the field, which as we all know is a really big if.
And forgot of course about Kenny Clark, he's already an excellent player.
LaFleur said Taylor is the starter this week, though he also said that will be a season-long competition. I wonder if it will be one of those things where if Taylor has to miss a game or two because of injury at midseason, he might not get his job back. As for King, that's what it sounded like to me too. He missed almost the entire camp with that hamstring injury so it's looking like they're going to limit his snaps for a few weeks. I think that does mean Brown gets the nod over Josh Jackson to replace him.
My best guess is around 50 catches, less than 10 yards per catch. Touchdowns, not so sure. Maybe four? He still is a big target down there even if he can't jump and twist and all that like he used to.
I don't know, sounds like maybe more than that but I can't say for sure. They're pretty cautious about what they share on that. Sounds like most of LaFleur's play calls are actually two calls, and the QB picks the better one at the line of scrimmage. So if Rodgers has more of a green light than the scheme usually allows, I'd think he has a little broader menu to pick from but maybe can't call just any play he wants. It's still not real clear how that works, they're very vague on these matters. It's something we'll probably learn in bits and pieces as the season goes on.
I still have my doubts that owners will expand the rosters, they don't want to pay more players, and if rosters expanded players probably would want the percentage of money going to them to expand a little, otherwise it's just dividing the pie among more players, so a smaller portion for each (or even more young players making teams, which means costing veterans their jobs). I'm of the opinion they should shorten preseason. It's criminal the money teams charge for tickets for those games, but they can do it because they make it part of the season-ticket package.
My apologies but this will have to do it, lots to get done between now and tomorrow with the Thursday opener. I'd bet on Ramsey, that's why they sign these guys to the practice squad. It's really just a mini farm team, a Triple A team to call up guys when injuries hit. And with that we'll have to end it here. Thanks everybody for dropping by, we'll get back on a regular chat schedule starting next week. And a special thanks to all our subscribers, you subscription fees help fund all the resources we put into covering the team, so thanks to all. And until next week, take care.