OK, here we go. I have my doubts too because of SF's defensive line, really tough to run on them besides the strong pass rush too. The one thing is Garoppolo seems like he can be a little erratic. Seems like a guy who could throw three interceptions in a game, so I'd think they'd be beatable if he went on an interception binge.
I'd still say it's better be the No. 1. Having those games at home doesn't guarantee anything, and I get what you're saying about the Saints, the home field is worth more against NO than SF or Seattle. But it's still better for the Packers to be the No. 1 and playing at home on a winter's day no matter who it's against.
I think a lot of us are wondering that. But it seems like LaFleur is fine going with the guys who have been playing. I know they're really happy with those guys' blocking, so as long as they're running the ball well it seems like they're fine sticking with them. I'm very surprised Grant hasn't gotten his shot yet. It does make you wonder why he's on the roster if they don't at least give him a look. But they've given all these snaps to these other guys so it looks like LaFleur is going to ride them out. It's getting late enough in the year where it might be tough to make a change, they've given so many quality reps to those other guys.
McCarthy definitely is doing a media blitz, wants to get his name out there and remind owners he's available and let them know what he's been up to with his time off. I'm sure his agent is orchestrating it, or at least the interviews with the NFL Network and Peter King. We weren't approached as far as I know.
They can do it in the playoffs, and it sounds like it's at least a possibility. I'd think it would be pretty tough for him to come back in January and play well, but you never know. Once he starts practicing they'll have three weeks to activate him or put him on IR.
The tough call will be Bulaga. He's had an excellent season, really really good at a time when it looked like his body might be ready to give out. The question now is whether he's going to cost too much. They'll want to extend Clark this offseason, maybe Aaron Jones -- they're not free agents but will be in 2021 -- so that could cost a lot. I'd think they'll want to bring back Crosby with the season he's having. I think Martinez will think he can get more on the open market than I'd be willing to pay if I were the Packers. I'd bring back Campbell and Vitale on the assumption neither would be expensive.
I'd say there really isn't one, Kumerow and Allison in recent weeks seem to be getting about the same number of snaps.
If you're the 49ers you'd have to feel good about playing the Packers, that's for sure. I do wonder if coaching against Shanahan, who's basically his mentor, and coaching against his brother for that matter, got into LaFleur's head in some way. Maybe he out-thought himself -- they know I like to do this, so I'm going to do this -- but that was the one game in which he was really out-coached, as you say. I don't have any sense what the Packers would think about playing them, if it would be in their head or if they're just dying for another shot at them. I would think the latter but you never know about the psyche of individual players. The one thing I mentioned earlier, the few times I've seen Garoppolo this year he's done some pretty impressive things, but he's also had stretches where he's been intercepted or thrown balls that should have been intercepted in bunches. The biggest thing in any re-match though is finding a way to block Bosa. He killed them in that game.
I'd want to ask a few scouts I trust before really weighing in, but yeah, if they think he'll be fine physically for the long haul then agreed, who cares whether he plays next year? So take him. I still have to think if teams think his long-term prognosis is good that he'll go higher than where the Packers are going to pick, but all that will be determined by the medical check at the combine. Could be interesting.
It's a little bit of a stretch, but only a little and I get your point. It does seem to have given the defense a boost in recent weeks, because teams pretty much have to double Z Smith wherever he lines up or he'll eat them up. That sure seems to be one of the reasons Kenny Clark's play has ascended this month.
He's definitely not the athlete he was a few years ago, he's getting caught more trying to escape the pocket than he used to. He's had several significant injuries too, those add to aging. He's still a good athlete and can make plays on the run but not like he used to. I'm thinking he's in the process of figuring out how he has to change as his athleticism declines. His arm still looks really good to me.
I wonder that myself. Cook obviously makes a big difference for the Vikings, and that's a different game if he plays because it takes the onus off Cousins. I wish he would have been healthy, would have liked to have seen the outcome. There were a couple runs by Boone where I thought if it had been Cook he might have popped it for 15 or 20 yards instead five. I just don't know. It's a little like if you took Jones off the Packers, though Minnesota is better at WR than the Packers.
I have to think yes, the OL benefits the most. Those guys playing together all those snaps in games and practice, it adds up, they get better at making their reads and calls and knowing what the guy next to him is thinking. Look how well they protected and run blocked last week in that difficult environment Monday night. I think they had only one false start. That was the culmination of all that work together this season.
I'm surprised the receiving corps, and especially Valdes-Scantling and Allison, haven't improved more over the course of the season. Now, the season isn't over, and you never know, one of them might have a big game or two in January, but I thought they'd be playing at a higher level by this point. But as I said earlier, I know it sounds strange to say because these guys are receivers (not tight ends or offensive lineman), but they do at least block well in the run game, and the Packers are becoming a run-oriented team because Jones is their best guy. So that has to be one of the reasons they're staying on the field. They have been cutting back on Graham's snaps the last couple weeks but they are still playing him more than I would. I don't know why Sternberger was inactive last week, he'd been blocking well besides bringing a little more speed to the position. Long and short of it, I agree on Graham -- I'd play Tonyan and Lewis more than him. The one thing with Valdes-Scantling, he has value as a guy who at last can run deep clear-out routes, and the defense has to honor his speed. I just don't know what the deal is with Grant, and why he hasn't gotten a shot yet.
He probably just doesn't take losing well. A man after George Halas' heart. Halas said something to the effect of, "You show me a good loser, and I'll show you a loser."
No, that's why you don't see him in a Packers uniform in the State Farm ads, for instance.
I wouldn't even consider it if I were them. The other issue is whether he'll be suspended, I don't think the NFL has ruled on that. But I wouldn't want him in the locker room if I were the Packers, he's just too unstable and unreliable. Rison was hardly a model teammate, and the Packers didn't even try to bring him back in '97. But Brown is on a whole 'nother level. Who knows what kind of blowup or lawsuit is around the corner with him?
It might be an ignorance is bliss kind of thing. They're a young team with a young coaching staff, and a lot of guys haven't been in this position, so while you can say that inexperience might hurt them, it could just as easily cut the other way and they might not feel the expectations because there really haven't been any on them all season.
Yeah, I remember seeing that ESPN simulation result and thinking, "Maybe, but I doubt it." Yeah, I had them at 8-8, figured there would be more growing pains for LaFleur than there have been. Each of us can define success how we want. In a sense the season has been a success, because they've got a foundation now, and with another good offseason this could be a really good team. On the other hand, you can count on having these opportunities, and you definitely can't count on being this healthy at this point in the season, it really is the healthiest season I can remember since I started covering the team in 1993. So you have to strike when you get the chance. For all they know, next year could be an injury disaster. So when you get the chance, you have to take advantage.
This is a good reminder about not being a prisoner of what happened most recently. But it's hard not to be a little impressed with them going into a tough place to play and beating the Vikings, even though Cook didn't play, and yeah, his absence was big. Still, the Vikings have a pretty decent defense and good receivers, and the Packers kind of took it to them. They seem to be playing better on defense recently. Jones is likely to get more touches now that we're hitting the money games, and he's becoming a big part of their identity on offense. I do wonder if they're ascending late in the year. The thing that really jumps out is their exceptionally good health. If that holds up, you never know what they might do.
I would think minimal if not zero. They need younger and faster and healthier.
I'm assuming he meant "milk money."
Seattle is a run-oriented team but has lost its top three RBs for the season, so that would be a huge problem for them playing at Lambeau in January. SF is built for that kind of weather with its run game and defense. It plays in a temperate climate, so maybe a bitter cold day would be bother the 49ers, but they have the kind of team that should be fine playing a run-oriented, defensive game. I'd think New Orleans would have the most trouble. Brees is really good, but if it's a blustery day I wonder about his arm strength at this stage in his career and his history of shoulder problems. The Saints just seem like a team built more for turf and their home dome, and the change of weather presumably would be a shock to the system too. Packers seem to be built for winter at Lambeau, they've gotten bigger on defense, and their offense now revolves more around running the ball. Plus, if the footing is shaky, I think that helps Rodgers escape the rush a little more.
I keep waiting for him to have a game where he gets three or four targets. Maybe that's to come. I thought he got held pretty blatantly by Kendricks on that throw to him against the Vikings, would have been a TD without the hold. Once they get in the playoffs, they just need somebody to make a couple plays besides Jones and Adams.
Rodgers is not tearing things up, and there's plenty to question about some of his decisions, and yes, he missed a few throws in the first half last week, throws that he missed less frequently when in his prime. But I'll say this: Watch other NFL games this weekend, and try to pay as close attention to the play of other quarterbacks (and ever throw and decision they make) as you do to Rodgers. It might lend some perspective.
OK, this will have to be the last question, have to get over to Lambeau for player and coordinator availability. Thanks all for coming by and sharing your thoughts and questions. Not sure next week whether we will go back to our regular schedule and chat Wednesday (which is Jan. 1), or if we'll do Thursday again. Check with PackersNews.com on Tuesday for that decision. As for the question, White is by far the Packers' top FA signing -- I'd say he and Brees are the two best in league history. Woodson has to be second, but if Z Smith plays like this for his contract he might pass up Woodson. You have to give Gutekunst kudos for this FA class. He swung big and it worked. Z Smith has been Pro Bowl level, P Smith was an upgrade, Amos has for the most part been really solid, as has Billy Turner. The moves were expensive but worth it. And that will have to do it for this week. Keep checking back with Packers New for the latest updates as well as more in-depth stories on the team. Thanks especially to our subscribers, you make our extensive coverage possible. Until next week, take care everybody.