Let's dive right in. Yeah, Gutekunst seems very much to believe in that adage. I'm wondering the same thing about Graham myself. Maybe LaFleur thought/thinks he can get more out of him than McCarthy did last year, maybe Gutekunst didn't like his prospects of replacing Graham, though with the money they'd have saved, I'd think they could have signed a decent player. But he's lost a lot of his explosiveness, and I wonder if he's going to be fighting these groin and quad injuries all season.
A couple things. One is, more compact formations generally speaking. Watch when they line up, a lot of the times all the WRs are lined up within a few yards of the tackles and TEs. Another is the QB is playing a little more from the pocket. As LaFleur said yesterday, he doesn't purposely practice off-schedule plays, whereas McCarthy did, Rodgers' scrambling was built into McCarthy's offense. More two-back stuff with LaFleur. And more formations with the receivers lined up close together so defenses have a little tougher time sorting out coverage a few steps after the snap. McCarthy relied a little more on getting his receivers wide and having them win one-on-one in space.
I'd be open to trading for one if I'm the Packers, but I'd also be careful. Sanders, for instance, is 32. That's getting pretty old for a speed position, so do you really want to give up a decent draft pick for him? He might be to the point where he'll decline between now and the end of the season, or by next year for sure. I don't think he'd be worth a one-year rental.
Greene was off to a pretty solid start and playing the run well, though I'm not sure if he's any better than Amos in that ILB role, and a lot of the yards the Packers have given up have come when Goodson was on the field as the second RB.
I did read something this week from Mike Lombardi (a former scout in the league) suggesting LaFleur should think about scripting the start of the second half. He also suggested not putting all his best stuff in the first 15. They do have call sheets for red zone and for right after a turnover -- not scripts, necessarily, but plays they want to call, which is kind of what the script is anyway, it's probably really rare when they just go right down the script for several or more plays in a row, circumstances probably don't allow that very often. But along the lines of your thinking, I thought Lombardi's idea of scripting the start of the second half was interesting, though I don't know how that might conflict with halftime adjustments based on any unexpected looks you're getting. Maybe the best idea is that if he has some plays he really likes and he's been putting them in the first 15, maybe he should leave a few off for later in the game.
Wouldn't go quite that far but get your point, he's been really valuable. When they announced on draft day two years ago they'd drafted a punter, I was like many wondered why Gutekunst would spend a pick like that. But then when Gutekunst said in his press conference that evening that he thought Scott had "rare" ability, it at least made sense, because that's a strong word in scouting circles, and if you really believe a guy has rare talent then trust your judgment, take him and hope you're right. To my untrained eyes, Scott last year in camp looked like the most talented punter they'd had since Hentrich. He then was inconsistent last season but had a strong camp this year and is off to a great start. He's been a huge help for the defense.
Kind of hard to make any worthwhile judgment now, but considering all the issues they had on defense, I don't blame them for a second for going with Savage. They really needed the playmaking on that side of the ball, and safety was such a weak spot. One thing I wondered about Brown, if I remember right he had a fairly serious foot injury in college. That would concern me as far as durability/longevity.
Yeah, I think that changed years ago. I know it was illegal way back when -- in that famous Starr photo on the QB sneak in the Ice Bowl, Chuck Mercein is diving on Starr from behind with his hands in the air, but as he has said he wasn't signaling touchdown, he was showing the refs that he wasn't pushing Starr into the end zone. I'm not sure when the rule changed.
Yeah, I thought he'd be better than he has so far, he started well last season before his core muscle injury. He had a decent camp but not a standout one from what I saw, but Rodgers named him once or twice as a guy he thought was playing well. It seems like Rodgers trusts him. But he's not producing much and had a bad drop last week. Could be he's still adjusting to the new offense like everyone else, or LaFleur is still learning how best to use him. But they need him to produce, because teams are going to keep doubling Adams most of the game until somebody starts making them pay.
Crabtree is old, that's why he's available. I still think Valdes-Scantling and Allison have a fair amount of talent and could improve a lot in the coming weeks. Maybe Tonyan can become a bigger part of the offense too. Of course Gutekunst should be open to bringing in someone, but I still think it's too early in the season to think things are dire at WR. Let's see where things stand when we're closer to the trade deadline. But I still think the Packers have enough talent at WR, it just needs a little more time to blossom.
From what I saw he looked pretty solid. He's a good run blocker, good at coming off double teams and getting out to linebackers. I suspect he'll improve a lot by season's end with all the playing time he's going to get.
He's not quite as quick and fast escaping the pocket as he used to be, though he still can do it and still throws really well on the run. I just think we have to give him some more time in this new offense before making any big judgments.
I wonder if he would have played some last week had he not been inactive (shoulder). Unclear whether he'll be available this week, either, he was listed as "limited" in practice both days this week -- the designation was an estimate because the Packers didn't have any real practices, they just conducted walk-throughs because of the short week.
I thought the tackling was really good in the opener and OK against Minnesota except for on Cook's TD run. Last week wasn't as good -- they had two missed tackles on one play, by Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry, on Lindsay's short TD run last week. But overall, seems like it's been better than in past years. Alexander tackles well, Martinez made a couple good plays in the flat last week, Amos seems solid. King had looked like a good tackler until the one he missed in the open field along the sidelines last week.
Look, I don't want to say leadership doesn't matter, it does. But talent and playmaking matter most, and the Packers are just a lot more talented on defense now. Matthews was an excellent player in his prime but was getting older his last few years with the Packers, lost some explosiveness. Daniels' was starting to decline by last year. The Smiths are huge players on the edge who are in their physical primes. Kenny Clark is really good and still ascending. Amos is in his prime. Alexander and Clark have played three straight games together -- they had only two full games together all last year. So I'd argue the biggest difference is the Packers are just a lot more talented on defense this season.
King definitely had some bad plays Sunday, got burned badly in coverage a couple times, missed a tackle in the open field. He'd played really well before then. He is on the injury report this week listed as "chest/illness" which I think means he has a chest injury and illness. If that's the case, maybe it was an issue against the Broncos. Because he really did have an off game. Addressed Graham earlier in the chat. As for Rodgers, there have been other times, like after I think it was the touchdown pass to MVS, where he looked over at the sidelines and pointed to someone, looked like he was congratulating somebody for something. So maybe some of the negative emotions he shows don't necessarily mean he doesn't buy into the offense. This is going to be an ever-evolving thing.
I do think LaFleur wants him to go through his reads quickly and get the ball out, but Rodgers always has been cautious about throwing into tight windows. That's one reason his INT totals are so low every year. At least this year he's justified in throwing it away or maybe taking a sack, because he has a defense that can get stops.
I'd be keeping my eye on offensive players -- RBs, WRs, TEs -- but would not do anything approaching desperation. Rison and Green, incidentally, were both waiver claims. Rare when players of that caliber get cut, but Rison was a disaster in Cleveland and the Browns eventually cut him loose late in '96, and if I remember right Green kept failing to make weight with the Jets in '10 so they finally just dumped. Those were low-risk moves for the Packers because they didn't have to give up anything a trade. It's not likely, but who knows? Maybe somebody will drop into their laps later this year.
The Dallas game will be telling -- not saying it will make or break the season, and a win or loss then won't dictate what happens in November, December, and January (if the Packers are still playing). But it is a game against a talented team that has a great RB and (apparently) good QB, so the challenge is much tougher. It's on the road, too. They've had a very advantageous schedule so far with all these home games. As for Rodgers, you are right, we don't know whether his best years are behind him. The recent history of guys like Favre, Brady and Brees say they don't have to be behind him, and he's obviously an extremely talented QB. But Rodgers has had several significant injuries, and there is a chance the mental and physical toll could hasten his decline more than those guys. We should have a better idea of that by late this year.
There are a lot of questions in this basic vein, so I'll answer as best I can. All I can say, think back to 2016, and how bad he and the team looked on the way to 4-6. Then remember how well he played from that point on taking them to the NFC championship game. Things can turn on a dime in this league. Also, I do have to say he's more justified in throwing the ball away now that he has a defense that can get a stop. No need for taking too many chances at this point. But I would agree that he's going to have to play a lot better as the season goes on if this team is going to accomplish big things, because as improved as the defense is, I very much doubt it's a lockdown defense like, say, Seattle had for several years there. But some of these things we just have to let play out. He's a talented player who's getting older and is working in a new offense and with a new coach. The questions are good ones, but that doesn't mean anyone can give an answer worth hearing at this point.
If Carson Wentz makes some difficult plays.
I would definitely play Tonyan more if I were them. He's their most complete tight end, and he has the youngest legs.
It's a long season, they have to wait and see how his body is holding up in December. At this early stage I'd guess it's less than 50-50 he's back, but so much can happen (or not happen) between now and then. I basically assumed he'll end up missing a couple games and be unable to finish a couple more, like last year, but what if he makes it through relatively healthy? That can change things. But there are a lot of games to play between now and the time that decision is made.
I think it's hard to evaluate that offense because of their quarterback issues. One, it looks like Mariota just isn't very good. Also, he injured his throwing arm in the first game, missed some time and had a hard time throwing the rest of the year. Just like judging McCarthy on SF's offense (ranked No. 32 in the league) the last year he was there, he had rookie Alex Smith as his QB.
They do some shotgun, but the main reason the Shanahan/McVay/LaFleur offense likes to play a lot from under center is for the run game and run fakes. The timing and handoff angles and fakes and all that are better from under center than from shotgun.
Mahomes looks like the best player in the game at this point, right?
I was thinking it might take four to six weeks, but there should be signs of improvement during that time. They're going to have to play a lot better on offense to have any chance at Dallas next week.
OK, this is going to have to be the last question, the short week has compressed the work week for everyone, including those of us who cover the team. So unfortunately this will have to do it. The run game has been as uneven as the rest of the offense. Over the next month we should get an idea whether the current issues on that side of the ball are because of the scheme change for the players and new coaching staff learning new players, or if the problems run deeper than that. I do think they left themselves short at RB, I thought that should have been a priority in the offseason to add another quality runner so Jones wouldn't have to play a lot and Williams could be more a third-down guy, and for depth when the inevitable injuries hit. Jenkins is a better run blocker than Taylor, so maybe that will help the run game in the coming weeks. And with that, we'll call it a chat. Thanks to everyone for coming by and sharing your thoughts and questions, very much appreciated. As always thanks especially to our subscribers, to cover the team as we do is expensive, and you help make it possible. And remember that you can get the Packers News app that provides access to all our Packers coverage for $4.99 a month, it's a great deal. Until next week, take care everybody.