OK, let's start right up. The backside cut block was part of the Mike Shanahan zone scheme, at least when Alex Gibbs was his offensive line coach. He used it in Denver but I don't know if he still was doing it in Washington, Gibbs was not on Shanahan's staff in Washington. McCarthy used it when he first came to the Packers, his OC was Jeff Jagodzinski, who had worked with Gibbs in Atlanta. But I don't remember seeing a lot of backside cut-blocking the last few seasons with McCarthy, either. I don't know if anybody is still doing it that way. Gibbs' last season in the NFL was 2013, and I don't know if he has any proteges using it. I'll ask around about that.
Maybe, they're paying him a lot, an average of $7M per year. With the way the cap goes up that won't be quite so high a couple years from now, so if he's still a guard that's probably OK as long as he's a pretty good one. He also could end up at right tackle, as you say, next year. But if he' ends up being a good guard, I'd think that would be good enough.
The defense played well, no question, won the game, and based on what we saw in camp it probably wasn't a fluke. Now, the one thing that will take several weeks to get a good feel for is how much of that performance was the Packers' improved D, and how much was Trubisky having a bad game. It's probably some combination of the two, but which way does it skew? It's just that some strange things happen early, and it takes several weeks for coaches to figure out their teams. And then there's injuries to key guys, they can change a team's season. Caution early in the year is always a good approach. The hardest thing is not being a prisoner of what happened most recently.
Not real good, but the Bears also are really excellent up front. Akiem Hicks is one of the best DTs in the game, and it was Mack who destroyed Turner on that one early rush. I wouldn't be surprised if Jenkins ends up being a starter at one of the guard spots before the season is over.
Another vote for caution here. I have to say, I don't remember thinking that the Packers were going to be good on defense in 17 after that Seattle game. This year, there's at least that chance because of all the resources they put into that side of the ball, and Pettine being in his second year as coordinator. I'd say top 10 in yards and points is very realistic and should be the standard. Top five? I'd agree it's way too early to say that but it's not out of the question either.
That's a good question, and this season will provide a good study in that if the Smiths have really good years. Elite players like Mack are just so valuable because offenses have to account for them, and even then they still get their share of sacks and wreck plays and games. So they make the players around them better while also making their own share of plays. I guess it will depend in part on just how well the Smiths play. If Rashan Gary pans out, that matters too because they wouldn't have had that pick. Kind of my gut guess at this point is it's better to have the generational talent, but I'm not sure on that and am very much open to the other possibility as well. Let's revisit this in December, maybe we'll have an answer.
You're not alone in feeling that way, I've heard from other fans who feel similarly. As for my opinion, I'd agree there have been too many occasions the past couple years where he's passed up the easier throw, I would not disagree with that. Also, his history from his first year as a starter is that he has a tendency to hold the ball too long at times. I'd also agree that the OL is just fine, and that there's plenty of talent at WR. But Rodgers is a rare talent, has as much throwing talent maybe as anyone who's played the game. I also have to point out that Mike Sando's QB survey from the offseason again had Rodgers at the top of the top tier of QBs in the league. Sando's yearly study uses a tier-based scoring system by approximately 50 GMs, head coaches, offensive coordinators and QB coaches in the league, and it's by far the best barometer for how the league views the QBs. So that counts for a lot. He till makes a big difference -- look at last week's game. He didn't play well but made a couple plays against a really talented defense that Trubisky just can't make, and that (along with a really good defensive performance) won the game. But I will say that the reason it's so important for LaFleur and Rodgers to click is to get Rodgers playing like he did when he was in the running for MVPs, and that includes getting the ball out and taking what's there and not always trying to make the big play. His ability outside the pocket makes him special, but it shouldn't be the offense, I think that was the problem in the last couple years with McCarthy. I will say that in camp and again against the Bears, Rodgers seemed more willing to sit in the pocket rather than bolt early. Now it's about getting the ball out on plays such as the one that LeRoy and Tom went over in the X's and O's video, which as you say is definitely worth watching every week. But long and short, unless the injuries have taken a great toll on him, he's still a difference maker.
Good question, I hadn't thought about that. I just looked through the offensive depth chart, my best guess is Tonyan. I just looked this up, he was an all-conference QB in HS and went to Illinois State as a QB, played in three games as a QB as a freshman but then but moved to WR the next season. He makes the most sense.
My best guess at this early point is it was more the Bears' D. Bulaga overall had a pretty good game, and Bakhtiari was OK. The inside guys had trouble at times. But the Bears are really good up front. I still think the Packers are fine on the OL, and they do have Jenkins as a fallback if they want to replace one of the guards. We'll know a lot more in the next month.
I'm thinking four to six weeks.
If you're asking whether I have doubts about whether he'll be an impact player, yes, I do, but to be fair I'd have them about almost any rookie this early in their career. But sure, with Gary there are more reasons to wonder, because of his history. The book on him coming out of Michigan was that he's a very talented, even rare, athlete because of his combination of size and explosiveness, yet he didn't produce the kind of sacks numbers or consistently dominating performances to match that talent. That's how he looked in the preseason games, too. He flashed ability but didn't make any plays. He only played I think six snaps against the Bears, actually got a pressure on at least one of them. You'd think being drafted that high he'd play more than that even with both Smiths playing as well as they did. But it looks like the Packers will have the luxury of bringing him along gradually because of them. Anyway, sure, there's still plenty of reason to harbor doubts. But we really need to give him a couple seasons to see what happens.
I don't know if it will or not, but it definitely should be. The scouts and coaches from that era -- Red Cochrane, Dave Hanner, Ray Wietecha, among others -- have told Ron Wolf and Packers historian Cliff Christl that Hornung was the best player on Lombardi era Packers, and that Lombardi thought that as well. Wolf said he asked them if all those '60s Packers were in a draft and they had the first pick, who would they take? All said Hornung. So if he's the best player on the greatest dynasty (five titles in seven years) in league history, you'd think his number should be retired. I like that the Packers don't retire numbers willy nilly, they save it if for the truly select few. But Hornung should be in that select few, no question if you ask me.
We'll have to see how that evolves the next few weeks, remember he's learning a new offense too, and even though he's played a long time there's still an adjustment for him too. One thing I've noticed, as I said earlier, is that he played more from in the pocket in camp and even against the Bears than he had the past couple seasons. So that at least suggests he's going through his reads like LaFleur wants. He also said after the game that he didn't keep the tempo of the offense fast enough, which included getting in and out of the huddle and (I think, at least) spending too much time at the LOS on occasion. Those will be things to watch, whether there's improvement week to week in the areas you point to.
Might depend in large part on the week-to-week game plans, how the opponent plays, etc. This week, for instance, will be instructive, because the Vikings are going to run the ball, so will Pettine get the new ILB (Goodson) or Summers more this week to stop the run, or will he play that five-man front (three DLs, two OLBs) with Martinez and then Greene at ILB? If he goes with Greene and it works, then maybe Greene will be play a lot even when Burks returns. But it could end up depending largely upon the opponent, and how much it emphasizes the run.
Yeah, I have to think they talked about it extensively, making sure LaFleur was getting the plays in fast enough, and emphasizing Rodgers getting them in and out of the huddle ASAP. And yeah, they have a play clock for team drills in practice.
I haven't heard anything about him, but it is a surprise he hasn't signed with anyone. The best guess is there's concern about his knee -- he finished last season on IR because of a knee injury, so maybe he's still having issues with it. That's the most likely answer.
That defense is really talented, and Rodgers does need to get the ball out fast more often. It's a fine line between making the plays that make him special, and relying too much on the off-schedule stuff.
I don't know a lot about the Falcons, but I'm thinking the Packers' D is better equipped to play the run. The Falcons have Grady Jarrett, who's excellent, but I'd think Kenny Clark is just as good. But with the two Smiths, the Packers have two good edge run defenders. They're both big, long, strong guys for that position, and I don't think the Falcons had anyone like them to play the run and hold the edge and occupy blockers. I don't have a great guess on Goodson. I guess I'm thinking they'll play him some this week, I have to think this is why they signed him, to play against teams that want to run. But they also have that five-man front I mentioned earlier, where they play three DLs, two OLBs, Martinez and six DBs, with one of the DBs being Greene as essentially an ILB. So they could go that way. I guess if I had to bet, I'd go with Goodson playing some this week, but that's just a guess.
Yeah, the Smiths aren't speed rushers, they're more power-oriented rushers as outside guys. That does help against QBs like Trubisky who like to escape the pocket and make plays on the run. There aren't as many escape lanes when you push the pocket from the outside rather than try to win with speed.
I think there's something to it. I'm thinking that what makes Belichick special are his abilities to determine what really is the most important thing to take away, and then he's probably better at devising ways to do it than others. I think everybody in the league tries to do it, I don't think Belicick is unique or even uncommon in that. But he's just better at it, both in deciding what he really needs to eliminate and how to go about doing it. In the Super Bowl, for instance, the Rams had a lot of weapons and were good running on early downs and also mixing in play-action that hit for big plays. So Belichck wanted to take that away, which everyone wants to. But the hard part is coming up with a good plan to do that. It sounds like Belichick changed what he'd done during the season kind of drastically, he played mostly zone (rather than his preferred m-to-m) on early downs to take away the deep play-action passes. I don't remember some of the other things he did -- McVay has talked a lot about this offseason, so you should be able to find it online -- but he basically had a surprise plan that worked great. That's probably where Belichick makes his bones, figuring out tactics to accomplish his strategy. As for the Vikings, that's what could make them tough to stop, they have a lot of weapons. I'm not an expert on this, but I'd guess that you'd want to keep Cook from dominating the game and make Cousins beat you, more than vice versa. But wanting to do that and coming up with the most effective plan to accomplish that are two different things.
It's always smart to be wary and have a prove-it approach. We just have so little evidence to go on. One training camp and then one game against a really talented defense. No matter how it turns out it's probably going to be kind of a slog for the month or so of the season, lots of fits and starts, bursts of rhythm and success, but also stretches of bad-looking play. We just don't know how good of a coach (overall) and coordinator LaFleur is. I like that he wants his QBs to play more from the pocket and make quick reads -- not that he discourages off-schedule stuff, and Rodgers has to do some of that because it's what makes him special, but the offense doesn't revolve around them. That strikes me as a good approach. Eric Baranczyk -- he's my X's and O's guy for our co-bylined column based on game video review each week -- calls it West Coast 2.0. That is, Bill Walsh West Coast offense with lots of quick throws but updated for today's game. But whether it will produce big results with this team, I just don't know.
Having the starters playing together at game speed for a few weeks should make a difference, there are a lot of nuances and idiosyncrasies in running games from one scheme to the next, even if they're similar schemes. So that's probably a big part of it. The relative inexperience of Stenavich very well could be a factor too. He was on NFL practice squads for part of three seasons and after six years coaching in college had been an NFL assistant for only two years prior to becoming LaFleur's OL coach. I'm sure experience is invaluable for making in-game adjustments, and Stenavich doesn't have a lot of it at the NFL level. Playing someone other than the Bears probably will help them too, though the Vikings have a good defense as well -- probably not as good as Chicago's, but still pretty solid.
He's got some ability as a runner, and he's a one-cut runner, which makes him a good fit for this offense. He was pretty shaky in the passing game in camp, though. Dropped several and in one deep red-zone drill botched his assignment on the first play, which got him chewed out by LaFleur. He does seem to fit their scheme as a runner. With the injuries in this league and especially at that position I'm sure he'll end up playing at an important time before the season is finished, so it would help him to get some snaps in a game that's in hand. Not sure if he'll get that chance.
I do wonder if there will be some long-term repercussions with breaking his collarbone on the throwing side, but when. I talked with a doctor for another team at around that time, he said one of the reasons you do surgery is to make sure the bone doesn't shorten or elongate from healing and change the throwing motion, and that it shouldn't affect Rodgers down the road. I also talked to Charlie Batch, who had the same injury and surgery when he was with the Steelers, and he said it didn't affect his throwing, though if I remember right he did say he felt a little click when threw post-surgery. Rodgers didn't reach the end zone on that Hail Mary at the end of the first half against the Bears, that made me wonder. But I have to say this, too. Back in I think 2007 I remember Favre underthrowing a deep ball and thinking maybe he'd lost some arm strength, and it turned out he had not. So I hesitate to make any snap judgments. There are other factors, mainly that he had the knee injury last year, and he's in a new offense this season, in play too. So like a lot of things in the NFL, we just need to see how things go this year to determine what, if anything, the accumulation of injuries (including the collarbone on the right side) have taken out of him. It's probably worth pointing out, too, that Brees has been playing with a post-surgical torn labrum for the entire time he's been with the Saints.
OK, this will have to do it. Just want to say thanks to everybody for coming by and taking part in this chat, much appreciated. The Vikings should benefit a fair amount, because they got a real look at LaFleur's offense with these players. They probably don't get too much from the preseason games, but this was a real game and LaFleur presumably wasn't holding back. So the Vikings should be ready for, for instance, that fake run one way and fake jet sweep the other and then deep throw to Valdes-Scantling. They also got a look at the Packers' new personnel on defense. So they should get a lot from the Bears game. And with that, we'll call it another chat. Thanks again everybody for taking the time to share your questions, thoughts and opinions. And as always thanks to all our subscribers for helping make our thorough coverage of the Packers possible, we can't do it without you. And as a reminder, we now have a PackersNews app for $4.99 month, which grants access to all our Packers coverage. It's a great deal. Remember, if I didn't get to your question try again next week, same day, same time. Should be plenty to talk about with another matchup of NFC North rivals. Until then, take care everybody