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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Are we Better? The 17 new faces on our opening roster

by Jerry in Connecticut
For PackerChatters

There are exactly 17 new faces on our opening day roster when compared to our opening day roster from last year. When matched up one for one with the people they replaced, the 2005 Packers look like a better team over all than the 2004 opening day Green Bay Packers. Here is a look at the old faces and the new faces that replaced them.

Old Face----------------New Face

Darren Sharper------Nick Collins
Mike Wahle----------Adrian Klemm
Marco Rivera--------William Whitticker
Cleditus Hunt-------Donnell Wahington

R-Kal Truluck-------Michael Montgomery
Doug Pederson-------Aaron Rogers
Steve Morley--------Chris White
Hannibal Navies-----Robert Thomas

James Lee-----------Colin Cole
James Whitley-------Marviel Underwood
Bhowah Jue----------Earl Little
Michael Hawthorne---Mike Hawkins
Nick Rogers---------Brady Poppinga
Torrence Marshall---Roy Manning
Brad Bedell---------Scott Wells
Sean McHugh---------Ben Steele
Bryan Barker--------Junious Coston

The first four sets are where the new faces represent a decline relative to the old faces for the 2005 season. This certainly doesn't include potential or upside of these players it is merely an observation of how good each player currently is. The next four look like washes between last year and this and the last nine look like gains to me.

I think Nick Collins is going to be great and have a great career, but I don't think he is yet quite as good as Darren Sharper. Sure Sharper got beat a lot last year and wasn't having the greatest season, but he was still worth a win singlehandedly when he snatched the ball out of that offensive lineman's hand and ran it in for a touchdown. Until Nick proves otherwise, I don't yet consider him to be worth a win all by himself.

The gaurds look to be clearly a downgrade....so far. These guys look decent and pretty solid, but they are at least not yet pro-bowl caliber. I considered both Wahle and Rivera Pro-bowl caliber guys. Nearly anyone that replaced them would represent a downgrade. The question then becomes, "How much will that hurt us?" That is certainly debatable, but no one expects our offensive production to drop precipitously this year, not even the nay-sayers in the media.

While Washington is our replacement underachiever, he is not yet as good as Hunt was last year. Of course some might argue that if you consider he is half as good, that two times nothing is still nothing. The most frustrating thing about Hunt was that he had flashes of greatness. So far Donnell has had flashes, but they aren't as bright or as frequent. This is a downgrade. Of course there is always the argument about team chemistry and discipline that should benefit by Hunt's exit.

I consider the next four pairs washes. I think Montgomery has shown me about as much as Truluck did last year already. I don't see him being better than Truluck this year, but Michael has many more in front of him than Truluck had, and I already consider him just as good.

The Pederson and Rogers pair would not be a wash this year except for Craig Nall. I now have at least as much confidence when Nall comes into a game as I had with Pederson. Our number two is solid, our number three is irrelevant. Except in this case our number three is the future. For this year it's a wash.

The Navies/Thomas pair I also consider a wash. While I'm usually suspicious of people with no last names (as they tend to assasinate presidents), there is every indication that Thomas will be every bit as good as Navies if not better. This is a wash because of the timing. It will take Thomas a little while to get on board and be a better performer than Navies, but it looks like it will happen....especially because he is a better fit for the Bates system.

The next nine I consider all net gains. Colin Cole is clearly a better player than James Lee as was proved by our depth charts in training camp. The same case is true of Sean McHugh and Ben Steele. I like Little over Jue and Hawkins over Hawthorne any day, and Underwood is clearly a better choice than Whitley.

I certainly like Brady Poppinga and Roy Manning over Torrence Marshall and Nick Rogers. Brad Bedell was for the most part competent, but I believe Scott Wells is pretty special. He now even has more starting experience than Bedell had.

Then there is Bryan Barker. BJ looks like he can handle the job this year and should be an upgrade over Barker.....and only having one punter allows us to keep 10 offensive linemen rather than the nine we kept last year. Anyway you look at it, this has to be an upgrade as Junius is literally a free player over last year.

Some might argue that we had McKenzie last year. Well he wasn't on our opening day roster and certainly didn't make a positive impact last year. In fact, the Packers didn't win any games last year while McKenzie was on the roster.

I would say we are giving up a little on our starting offense, but have added so much depth that we have a fairly sizeable net gain in talent on the team. Even ignoring upside, this looks like a better team than the 2004 variety, and that one was good enough to win the North.

That is to say nothing about the coaching situation which most predict will be an improvement over last year. If some of the upside on this team blossoms this year, there's no telling how good we could be.

It looks like there is plenty to be optimistic about.
Hey, the game that you wrote D. Sharper was worth a win all by himself, we lost that game! Yeah, it was against Jacksonville and WE LOST!
I think your post was an interesting, fair-handed, relevant one, Jerry. I do think that the long-term upsides on the new players is so much better than the old faces (except for the guards).
I think we are a much more athletic, physical team than last year, especially with these two additions to your list.

Old Face---------------New Face
Nick Luchey------------Vonta Leach
Sean McHugh------------Donald Hall

Hopefully this will lead to better special teams play and improved overall play as the season progresses.
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