Welcome to the News Editorial section of PackerChatters.com where you will find Green Bay Packers news updates throughout the year. Packer fans editorial's, pre and post game reports, draft talk and more.
Friday, July 29, 2005
Grady Jackson: A few misconceptions
A few misconceptions must be exploited here.
First, when Jackson was cut by New Orleans during the season, the Packers, along with three or four other teams, put claims on him (can I name the other teams? No, this is just going on memory). The Packers were rewarded Jackson because, of the teams that wanted him, they had the worst record (I believe it was 1-4, including that disgusting loss to KC). Jackson comes in, the season turns around, they make it to the NFC championship game- and the rest is too painful to discuss.
Last year, the Packers suffered mightily when Jackson was injured, and were much better were improved significantly when he was on defense. Now, with many people saying he is the most important defensive player on the team (any arguments here? I'll listen to KGB, maybe Barnett, and definitely Harris- but who else was a difference maker for the Packers?) the Packers say, "Ho-hum, who cares". We should.
What Green is to the offense, Jackson is to the defense- there is a significant drop-off when he isn't playing. He might get hurt? Sure- but you can say that about every player. He's made it clear he wants to stay in Green Bay, but he wants more money, because he is a valuable player. Pay him. Or give me a viable, proven alternative to him- and, although I definitely advocate allowing him into camp, I don't for a second believe he could be the same player Jackson was last year.
Bottom line: you want a successful season, sign Jackson (yes, he's that important). If not- don't blame Bates when the defense stinks; blame yourselves and your adamant refusal to pay players that are needed.
Monday, July 25, 2005
Who coaches the Packers in 2006?
I think while there are many reasons to keep Mike Sherman as coach of the Packers, his job is indeed in jeopardy. While he has a great winning percentage and 3 straight NFL North division titles to his credit, this team is still terribly inconsistant and looks totally unprepared and unmotivated to play important games.
We can still go back to the 02 season where we had the opportunity to beat the Jets in the season finale, and to take control of home field advantage throughout the play-offs, and not only did we lose but we were embarrassed. Then we followed that with an absolute "stink bomb" against the Falcons which began the process of disarming the "Lambeau Mistique".
We followed that with a poor preseason in 03 in which we could barely generate an offense, then we opened the season with the "rededication of New Lambeau Field" with one of the most embarrassing performances ever played against the Vikings. Some of you may say "we didn't lose all that badly" but you really need to go back and look at that game to realize the score meant nothing compared to the way the Vikings dominated us that game.
After that we stunk at Arizona, collapsed against the Chiefs, dominated the Eagles 2x and still lost both contests. We "backed into the play-offs" given a miracle of the Vikings fatal collapse in the dessert and then we "choked" in Philly to end an extremely disappointing season.
Perhaps now with only one title and the related responsibilities, Mike Sherman can again become the head coach we all feel he has the potential to be. I personally believe that is what TT is waiting to evaluate. I don't think it's a forgone conclusion that Sherman is a lame duck coach, but if his team struggles with consistancy and looks as dismal as it did last season and at other times in his tenure, then I look for a change.
I'm not saying it's all Mike Sherman's fault but in sports today, the players seldom share the burden for the blame in the poor performance of the team. With the salary cap, we can't replace all the players so the quickest, easiest thing to do is try to find a new coach who can change the attitudes and committments of the players on the roster.
I am intriqued with Kirk Farentz from Iowa, if he would ever consider coaching in the NFL. He certainly has excelled during his time in Iowa City.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
I want Bubba Franks as a Packer
by Joe Lacey
I want Bubba Franks as a Packer, and I think he's fundamental to our 2005 season.
Ted Thompson has not revealed his realistic strategy for managing this team, and he has no reason to be loyal to the players that we love. I will respect TT for being frugal where he can be, and taking calculated risks where he can. Bubba falls into the frugal part of this year's equation, so don't hold you breath for his contract renogiations. (Now just watch him sign tomorrow! ha-ha-ha!)
That's the business end of the NFL. it's why we're seeing our players both come back to the Packers after supposedly insulting offers since 2004 (Reugamer, Kampman, Navies, etc.) and move on to teams that might not be as successful (Wahle, Rivera, Sharper, etc.)
The reality of Franks is that even if he's the best TE in the league, he'll only get from the Packers what they can afford to pay him this year. Since they can exercise the franchise tag, they'll do it. They're not cruel or disrespectful for that. They're intelligent.
His salary will be based on RELATIVE worth. That includes his relative worth within our 53-man roster (very high), his relative worth around the league (top 10), and the realistic prospects for TEs in THIS offseason (top half). For Franks, he's gotten a bit of bad luck with his contract timing.
The best TEs are secured by their teams (Gates, Gonzalez, Shockey, Heap, etc. etc. etc.), and most teams have a TE they are happy with (for their system) whom they could get for a price that represented less work than trying to get Bubba, and the draft provided cheaper solutions for teams that wanted a good new TE. Playing TE is not rocket science, so rookies can be very effective when they want to be. To get Franks away from the Packers THIS YEAR, some team will have to commit a good deal of money to him, and the Packers can match it. Unlucky for Bubba.
The Packers are intelligent to wait as long as possible to determine the CHEAPEST price they can pay to Franks to keep him a Packer. I'm so sorry if some of you might think he "deserves" more, or that Hunt is a sack of shite so "how DARE they do that to Bubba!!!", but it's economics, friends. Comparative micro economics, in case you're curious.
Anyone who thinks that contracts set good examples for other players are being too romantic, IMO. What's to say that giving more money for Bubba than the Packers technically NEED to offer isn't going to make other players reluctant to sign for less than their perceived worth? What's to say they all won't mutter under their breath that those extra $500,000 per year could have been THEIRS? Can anyone argue that the tactics of the New England Patriots have not resulted in 3 Super Bowl victories in 4 years, with 10+home playoff victories and the revenue, recognition, and fan satisfaction that has come with it? Do they offer more money to their players than they can get away with offering? In fact, they repeatedly pick up the cheapest specific role players they can from other teams and resign their proven vets for less money than the previous year... after those same players have performed above and beyond their previous contract. The vets that don't like it literally get shown the door.
The fact is that every month of every year in the NFL, the players have the option to refuse to give their services to the team because they perceive that they are WORTH more money than their contract. Bubba's contract only affects the other Packer contracts if another team wants to steal him. Right now TT can count on Bubba at the franchise rate. The more money TT has to work with at that point (signing every other player he possibly can before Bubba) will help to determine how much Bubba is worth to the 2005 Packers in the event that another team wants him to change jerseys.
Our opinion as fans really won't change a thing about NFL contracts.
If you want to give the Packers advice about their player contracts, study sports law and get them to hire you. It's not like watching game film, though doing that well certainly isn't easy either. But writing contracts of any kind is no walk in the park. Negotiating 53 contracts could put a bit more of a limp in your stride, and keeping up with the 32X53 = more than 1500 NFL player contracts per year in order to determine relative worth might be the kind of thing you'd want to actually take your time to get it right.
Especially when you've got to answer to the fans of the Green Bay Packers.
Friday, July 22, 2005
Team's gotta make a stand!
A year ago, I would have been adamantly against trading Walker. Team's gotta make a stand. I cheered Sherman on as he held his ground against McKenzie and Rosenhaus.
Then, we realized what a mistake we had made. McKenzie showed up, called the Packers bluff, and proceeded to become a detriment to the team in attitude and performance.
Incredibly classless. But effective.
In other words, as much as people say that the poor, innocent employee is at the mercy of the employer, and can be cut at any time, I'm guessing a client of Rosenhaus actually holds the upper hand.
A player is subject to being cut anytime. However, that player may sign a contract with another team after being cut. In other words, even Chris Akins has a job out there, as long as he performs well enough to earn a job somewhere. Just because a team cuts a player doesn't mean they are lining up for welfare checks.
However, MM showed us that there is NO way for the team to battle this kind of employee terrorism.
Renogotiate the contract, you end up with Grady and a dozen more people hiring Rosenhaus to get more money mid-contract.
Stand up to it, and eventually, the player will report (meaning the team is obligated to pay him his salary, regardless of effort), and if as classless as MM (and probably a Rosenhaus client) will fake injuries and dog it on the field until you force the team to accept less in trade.
Trade away, and you may get some value, but you communicate that any player that wants out of Green Bay just has to sit out, and soon, we'll have 6-7 players asking for a trade by not reporting.
Exactly what is the healthiest option...short term AND long term?
Here's the healthiest option. The owners need to sit down during those CBA talks and start developing some signing bonus language, that if by a player's option they have held out while under contract, the penalites come from the signing bonus and start coming off the cap. If a player is cut for holdout mid-contract, they can be cut and MUST repay the pro-rated signing bonus.
This is manipulation of the system by those without souls or conscience, but at least they know CPR.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
by Larry Garot (LMG)
12H was a long time member of the Times4 Packer Forums and brought great wisdom, knowledge and enjoyment to many over the years.
You will be missed George.
George H. Spoentgen
George H. Spoentgen, age 75, of 1407 N. Fourth St., Manitowoc, died Monday morning, July 18, 2005 at his residence.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 23, 2005, at the First Reformed United Church of Christ, 3613 Waldo Blvd., Manitowoc. The Rev. Richard Runge will officiate, with burial of his cremated remains at Evergreen Cemetery, Manitowoc.
George was born March 1, 1930 in Manitowoc, son of the late Reuben and Leila Meisnest Spoentgen. He was a 1948 graduate of Lincoln High School, Manitowoc. On Sept. 23, 1952, George was inducted into the United States Army serving in Germany until being discharged on Sept. 10, 1954. In 1955, George graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. On Oct. 9, 1965, George was married to the former Nancy L. Krueger at Friedens United Church of Christ in Reedsville. He worked as a systems analyst for the Manitowoc Company retiring in 1991. In 1991, George was instrumental in developing a local Special Olympics group in Manitowoc. He was a member of First Reformed United Church of Christ in Manitowoc.
Survivors include his wife: Nancy of Manitowoc; two sons and one daughter-in-law: Dan (Jacki) Spoentgen of Green Bay; Jim Spoentgen of Manitowoc; one grandson: Jackson Spoentgen of Green Bay; one brother: Peter Spoentgen of Portage, Ind.; one sister-in-law and one brother-in-law: Alyce (Charles) Vogel of Kiel; nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends survive. He was preceded in death by one infant granddaughter: Mary Margaret Spoentgen.
Relatives and friends may call at the First Reformed United Church of Christ on Saturday at the time of services.
In lieu of flowers, memorials would be appreciated for Special Olympics in his name.
The Jens Family Funeral Home and Crematory of Manitowoc is serving the Spoentgen family.
Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter
July 20, 2005
November is Meat Month
by Mark Quarderer
Mercifully, the season starts in less than a week and we can quit talking about last year and start talking about this year. Training camp begins, and about two weeks later we have our Aug 11. scrimmage (uh, excuse me, exhibition game) against San Diego. The starters will play a series or two and the bulk of the game will be played out by guys who'll be long gone by the time the games count.
Still, they'll have Packer uniforms on and that's good enough for somebody who hasn't watched a Packer game in 8 months.
The football gods were kind to the Packers this year when it came to the schedule. We open up with 5 straight games against teams that didn't make the playoffs last year....Detroit, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Carolina, and the Saints. None of these teams, with the possible exception of Detroit, is figured to be an offensive powerhouse this season which should certainly give our newly reconstituted defense some time to gel and gain confidence. The game in Detroit is always tough, and the game in Carolina is certainly no gimme, but it is not out of the realm of possibility that the Packers could win all 5 of these games, or go 4-1 as they head in to their bye week.
They come off the bye, with two weeks to prepare, for an early divisional showdown at Minnesota followed by a home game against Cincinnati.
But the season will be defined by what happens in November, because that is the meat of their schedule.
Home against the Steelers, away against the Falcons, home against the Vikings, away against the Eagles.
Four straight nationally televised games against four playoff teams from 2004, including three who were in the conference championship games.
I would submit that even if the Packers roar through the rest of their schedule with a 10-2 record, it's these four games which will define their season. The Packers don't need to win all of these, but they need to look like they belong on the field with them, which quite frankly they didn't against Philadelphia last year.
I'm not going to be deceived by another 10-6 record this year because I know that we're an above average team and we should finish with an above average record. I'm going to look at how we do against the better teams....because we didn't beat a single team last year with a winning record.
Tuesday, July 19, 2005
5 Keys to Packers Success this Year
Here we are, roughly one week away from the start of training camp. The offseason, free agency, draft and minicamps are behind us. In the parlance of poker playing, it’s time hold em or fold em, read em and weep.
For you true Pack fans, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is by listing your top five keys to success for the Packers this year. Bates, Favre, turnovers, injuries? It’s up to you, list em in order with most important first. Never being one to avoid controversy, I’ll start off by listing mine.
1. Offensive Line- Say what you want about the defensive troubles, but this team lives and dies by its offense and its offense is successful due to the contributions of Beightol’s troops. This year, there will be at least three new players in starting positions from last year, and possibly four if Tauscher gets switched to guard to make room for Barry. The bottom line, if this unit can’t stay healthy, gel and produce, it won’t make a whole lot of difference what Brett, Ahman, Bubba, Donald, William and Javon do.
2. Fundamentals- You’d think that players that get to the pinnacle of NFL success would be proficient at the basics. Wrong! Too often over the last few years, the Packers have been plagued by inconsistent play totally devoid of any semblance of football fundamentals. Poor tackling, poor angles, missed blocks, missed gap responsibilities, dropped passes, over-pursuit, bad passes, fumbles, running before the ball is caught, dumb penalties, the list goes on-and-on. In this day and age of football parity, the gap between all teams is small. The teams that don’t beat themselves are the ones who have the best chance of making it to the Super Bowl.
3. Schemes- I know that such things as Bates’ new enthusiasm and turnovers will be near the top of many people’s lists, but to me the key to both of those is schemes. Everyone harps about interceptions and fumbles, but to me a good OC develops schemes to minimize the risk of those things happening. Sure fumbles are going to happen, and yes Brett has that gunslinger mentality, but Green is going to fumble less when playing to his strengths and Brett will throw less interceptions when throwing higher percentage passes. If you doubt how much importance schemes play in the overall success of a team, look at what Slowik’s new scheme did to the defense last year.
4. Defensive Talent- Stats don’t lie, this defense was in serious need of talent upgrades over last year. And unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they got it. For whatever reason, TT basically stood pat over the offseason. Sure, he added 3 players (Franz, Freeman & Little) to possibly replace 1 ½ (Sharper & Roman), and added Ray Thompson to possibly replace Navies, but they really needed much more improvement over that to have any chance of being a “good” defense in the NFL. In a perfect world with no salary cap constraints, the Packers need one or two DTs, one DE, two CBs , two LBs and a safety before they can ever be a top ten defense. Barring that, average is about the best Bates can hope for with this group.
5. Special Teams Play- I would have loved to put signing Sherman, Walker, Franks and Jackson to new contracts here, but special teams play just edges them out in my book. Only because they will all be taken care of in due time, but things like poor special teams play can cost them victories in the meantime. If you don’t believe that, look at where Longwell’s last second field goals got them last year. As I mentioned earlier, little things count in this age of parity, and field position is one of them. A few yards on a short kickoff or good return here, a shanked punt or poor coverage there can make a difference in close games. Remember, the Packers won or lost five games last year by 3 points. A few yards can make a difference when trying a game winning field goal in the last seconds on the game.
So there you go, that’s my top five list of things I think will affect their success this year. Would be interested in seeing yours.
Aaron Rodgers could be one of the best Packer first round selections of all time.
by Mark Quarderer
I think that Aaron Rodgers may turn out to be one of the best Packer first round selections of all time.
Going into the draft, I really thought they needed to take a QB on the first day, but I didn't think that Rodgers would be available so I was looking more at guys like Orton, Walters, Frye, and Greene.
But Rodgers fits the bill for Green Bay. He's a good runner, he's careful with the ball, he's smart, and he plays his best in big games. In short, he's everything that we currently lack at that critical position.
I don't know what his learning curve is and I don't know when he'll be ready. I do think that he's going to be allowed to develop at his own pace, which means he won't play until he's ready. It also means that when he's ready, he'll play.
This is a hard concept for a lot of people to wrap their minds around. It seems to be taken for granted here that Favre gets to play for as long as he wants. I would submit that is probably not 100% true and correct.
If Rodgers is the guy TT wants to build around, and if Rodgers is ready to play in the opinion of the coaches, then he's going to play. When that happens is anybody's guess.
Friday, July 15, 2005
Another thought I have on the matter is the post-Favre world. Our past draft, whether you believe it to be a success or a failure, has invested heavily in potential-heavy raw talent. When Favre does retire, especially if Rodgers has growing pains, our team is going to look very pedestrian when it comes to talent. It could easily grow and blossom, but I would assert that part of the reason Green is still here is to keep giving Favre the benefit of a feature back. Had Favre retired this past season, I think Green may have been shopped around. I've said before that Favre's return is a two-edged sword...the thought that we must keep trying for a championship with what we have instead of revamping now, with Favre's prohibitive salary.
My point is simply that getting a first (or more) for Green will be important for the rebuilding of the Packers. As PN said, he's an incredible back and to get nothing for his talent later on is going to be painful.
I like Green. A lot. He's tremendously talented. But you pick up any publication and there are very few that don't put Green Bay up there for the talent in our running back stable...three guys that can truly produce, including one who may soon be under consideration for Canton if he can continue another season or two of performance.
If we don't get a trade for Green, we may need to start looking at Davenport and Fisher for trade potential. Yes, you can never have too many running backs, as that position is very possibly the most injury prone position. But, preparing for the post-Favre Packers is going to be essential for the Packer brass...they will lose their icon and "face" of the organization, and if the team starts losing...well, we've already heard boos at Lambeau Field in a 10-6 season. The Packers have built up a tremendous fan base over the last 13 years or so, and many of us remember life before Wolf, Holmgren, and Favre.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Must be nice to be an NFL GM...or is it?
I listen to local radio sports talk shows, and read
many of the posts on this board, and sometimes I wonder
why anybody in their right mind, and unlike some fans, I
believe Ted Thompson is in his right mind, would want to be
e a NFL GM, or how any of them can possibly meet fans'
First, fans want the GM to publicly disclose what he's doing,
and what he plans on doing. After all, the fans do
indirectly pay his salary, through actual attendance
and TV viewership. It would make them feel more secure
that the man in charge really has a pulse, that he's
awake and aware of the world around him, and even sc
the NFL free-agent and waiver lists from time to time.
All this, while somehow keeping other GMS around the
league in the dark as to what he's really going to do.
Fans hate GMs who show patience, who presumably are
more "reactive" than "proactive". They see player after
player, all of them potential Pro Bowlers or solid starters
in their mind, go off the draft board, free agent lists, or
see their teamwaiver wire, and then see their team end up
with the dregs of the NFL. Joe Who? George Whats-his name?
Never heard of them -- must be camp fodder. That's why this
team is going down the tubes, the guy in the GM chair
doesn't know what the hell he's doing! And if
the GM does deign to divulge why a certain player was signed,
the fans don't believe it -- he's just trying to justify
making a lousy choice.
Packer fans like to look at the "little picture". What
the hell are we going to do about Javon Walker? Grady Jackson?
Bubba Franks? What do you mean, nothing, that their are
actually 53 people on the roster who get paid? But these
guys are the CORNERSTONES of your franchise -- this team
can't possibly win without them! Pay them, and get their
asses in camp! Of course, TT, be careful with the cap in
the future, too! We don't want the salary-cap hell we supposedly
went through this year! (Of course, if you'd been a true
NFL GM, you'd have made the proper, proactive moves to alleviate
our cap problems!) But let's worry about next year
when it comes. Let's do all we can to win NOW -- Brett's
not going to be here forever!
And it goes without sayin that TT is somehow going to have to
be some sort of a magician. Sure, the fans say, it's a
"fixed pie", but (wink-wink) contracts are adjusted all
the time! So John Doe will have to "forfeit" some of his
potential salary so Javon Walker can get his. Some rotational
lineman gets minimum salary so Grady Jackson, also basically
a rotational guy when you think about it, can get what he
feels he deserves. A GM has to be able to rob Peter to pay
Paul! He has to be able to perform the old "hidden ball" trick
with the team's budget! Hey, TT, you're getting paid the big
bucks, so perform your magic!
Nope, I wouldn't want this job. I'm glad TT has it, he's the
one that has to deal with the issues. He has to be part
magician, part juggler, part crooked accountant, and above all,
part manager of a Super Bowl franchise. Maybe TT isn't the
guy. Who is? Not me! I can be a fan, and analyze from afar,
without assuming any of the responsibility!
Just this fan's "view"....
Prediction: Packer Defense to be much better
by Mark Quarderer
I'm going to make a prediction here: The Packer defense is going to be so much better this year that people are going to wonder why we spent so much time anguishing over it in the preseason.
That doesn't mean that nobody will ever convert a third down on us, it doesn't mean that every QB will have a guy breathing on him every time he throws, it doesn't mean we won't give up any big plays or miss any tackles.
What it does mean is that we'll have faster, better tackling safeties than we did a year ago. We'll have a scheme that emphasizes keeping them back to protect against long plays instead of putting them up on the line of scrimmage. We'll have healthier, better players at the tackle spots. Our linebackers will be free to pursue plays instead of having a gap responsibility.
All this will add up to a much improved defense, and it still won't be enough.
I'd also say that the author of an article (Bob Fox - Scout.com) highlights what I'd like to call "The Quarterback Trap", where Green Bay, Minnesota, and Indianapolis currently reside.
You have a very good QB that you spend a sizeable chunk of your salary cap on. You then feel compelled to give him weapons and protection. In an era when skill position players and offensive tackles earn $5 million/year, by the time you add up the cost of the QB , the weapons, and the protection........you have insufficient resources to spend on the defensive side of the ball.
Then, when your team comes up short you say "defense wins championships".
If you really believed that, then you'd spend the money on defenders, not tackles and QBs.
This is a star-driven league, and the QB is always the star of the team as well as the most important player. It's going to be a perpetual battle to stock a defense with enough talent unless you are very good, and very lucky in the draft, or you have a QB that doesnt' eat up a huge chunk of your salary cap (like 6th round pick Tom Brady).
I think that in this era of free agency it's a mistake to try to build around a big dollar QB.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Holdouts: You can't have it both ways.
If your going to take a hardline on holdouts, you better damn well reward those that are doing it right.
Bubba Franks did it right. Ahman Green is doing it right.
You can't just throw them by the wayside and then throw a tantrum when suddenly guys like Walker and Jackson decide to get cranky and try to squeeze more money out of the team.
Ahman Green is 28. His first two years in the league, he had just over 60 carries... total. He works his butt off. He's a down to earth guy. Midwest through and through. And for some silly reason, fans don't want to pony up to pay the guy.
Well, I'll say this. Ahman has 5 seasons with 250+ carries. He'll be 29 AFTER this season is over.
Edgerrin James has more then 300 more carries then Ahman.
Warrick Dunn has 170ish more.
Shawn Alexander has 181 less carries, about 2/3 of ONE season.
Corey Dillon has over 700 more carries. When Dillon hit the mark that Green is at, he still had 4 productive seasons after, 3 out of 4 of those seasons he went for 1300+ yards.
Ladanian Tomlinson has about 200 less carries then Ahman... less then a full season worth of carries.
Tiki Barber, about the same number of carries, but 2 years older.
Marshall Faulk hit the amount of carries Ahman early in his 6th year. That year and the following 2 years he went for 1300+ yards. In his fourth year after he nearly had 1000 yards despite missing 6 games.
Eddie George was abused in his early years. He MASSIVE carries. Still. He hit Ahman's mark about midway through his 5th year. That year he went for 1509, then was over 1k 3 out of the next 4 seasons. And if there was a runner who took more abuse per carry in the league, I don't know of him.
Curtis Martin hit 1500 midway through his 5th season. He went for 1400+ yards that season, then 1204, 1513, 1097, 1308, 1697.
Jerome Bettis? Priest Holmes (though his number of carries is about even to Ahman, he's just much older).
Hell, before he went psycho last season, Ricky Williams came into the season with 1589 carries, more the Ahman.
Payton, Sanders, Emmitt, Allen... modern era (longer season) tailbacks that went over 3k carries.. and were productive WELL past 1500.
Even non-hall of famer types who stayed relatively healthy put up productive carries WELL past 1500.. Ricky Watters, Thurman Thomas, Riggins.
Look at a guy like Dickerson, who had several good seasons after 1500 carries despite chronic injury problems.
Despite the crazy talk, talented running backs do not grow on trees. Ahman Green is still young, he's still got a lot of carries in him, and he's been relatively major injury free (knock on wood) throughout his career. He takes great care of himself. He doesn't complain. The guy deserves an extension, pure and simple. He does it "the right way".
If we don't give him the money, our GM is just a hypocrite, because he's hardlining the malcontents, but he's not rewarding solid, productive players that deserve contracts.
Ahman Green deserves an extension. Get it going now. The sooner, the better.
Sunday, July 10, 2005
Quick Hits (and misses)
by Mark Beerman
Maybe it's just me, but every year during the draft there seems to be some projected second round players who don't get drafted at all. Case-and-point for this year, Ernest Shazor. From everything I read, this guy was a lock to go in the second round. But some of those draft publications also pointed out that Shazor might be moved to LB because of his speed. Something yours truly is starting to think is that unless a player is a lock to go in the first round, that these players' draft spots hinge on their ability to play the position and fit within a certain scheme. I think with the emphasis on players being able to play early in their careers, teams are looking to see who best fits their schemes and not concern themselves over who the best available player is.
It is so nice to see Ted Thompson being proactive with signing draft picks. From what I've read just recently, the Bears and Dolphins are snoozing the summer away, waiting for Alex Smith's contract to be done by the Niners. Really, this shouldn't be happening in the NFL...for one reason, being in training camp is of the utmost importance. Not having x-amount of players in training camp because y-player hasn't signed equals the Niners pissing on everyone's parade. People, as well all know you piss on the Niners like you're R-Kelly at a nightclub. The Niners dictating the slotting is like letting monkeys negotiate world peace.
Something that really boils my nerves is people saying T.O. and Javon Walker's situations are completely different. The synopsis is T.O. is greedy and Javon just wants his fair share. Excuse me? Since when is a $75 million contract just his "fair share"? Better yet, how can a player not look greedy when asking for $75 million? Quite frankly, if I was Javon, I wouldn't start pissing off 99% of the fanbase with this "fair share" stuff. Crying pauper is one thing, doing it from your Florida mansion is quite another. To be honest, I really like Javon and his game. I just can't stand outrageous demands from one great season of service. I just hope Ted Thompson doesn't get lured into doing a contract renegotiation through the media.
Maybe it's just me, but everytime I hear a glowing recount on what Joey Thomas is doing, it brings tears to my eyes. Have we found the yin to Al Harris' yang? Is Pappa Sherman's little boy going to become a man? Because last I checked, Jim Bates was the friggin miracle worker with CB's (not to take anything away from Lionel Washington, but Bates' former players reads like a who's who of cornerbacks). If Joey Thomas is the next Patrick Surtain, that's one less problem in Packerland.
That does it for this month...sorry it was so short, but the Packers and everyone else aren't giving me anything to work with. If you're a Packer fan and live in the San Diego, CA area, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm always looking to meet new Packer fans, both male and female.
Until we rekindle the light and fight back the night, see ya's all later!
Friday, July 08, 2005
Disarray in Packerland, The State of the Packers, pre-camp
by Mark Lawrence
Almost immediately after the '04 playoffs were over, Packers President Bob Harlan relieved GM/Coach Mike Sherman of his coaching duties, and hired Ted Thompson as the new GM for the Packers. Thompson came in and has proven a master of talking to reporters but saying nothing. We have very few signs of his intentions for this team and its future. What we do know is quite disquieting.
At the time of this writing (7/7/05) Mike Sherman has one year left on his contract, and there have been no talks about an extension. The Packers have a lame-duck coach. Simultaneous with this, the Packers have undergone a substantial purge of their coaching staff. Of the 18 coaches on the Packers staff, 8 are new hires and 2 are coaching new positions. 6 of these coaching changes are on the defensive side. The only thing that's clear about the Packers defense is that it will have an all new look.
There are several key players who are threatening to hold out: Javon Walker, the pro-bowl WR; Grady Jackson, the NT who is the heart of this Packers defense; Bubba Franks, the pro-bowl TE; and Najeh Davenport, a backup RB. The loss of all four of these players would be an unprecedented blow which would be very difficult to overcome. In the absence of all four, it's difficult at this instant to see the Packers winning better than 8 games.
GM Ted Thompson proved very active in draft day trades, and managed to draft 11 new players. These new players were obviously chosen for speed and future potential; it's difficult to see any of them making a strong contribution in the month of September. Also Thompson used his 1st round pick on Aaron Rodgers, a QB prospect who will obviously be unable to play effectively this year, but who at this instant is the anointed heir of Brett Favre.
There are several other key players who are not currently signed past this year. Foremost on this list is Ahman Green, the Packers pro-bowl running back. Ahman will be 30 in '06 and up for a major payday, a payday that would be a questionable contract for a 30 year old RB who has taken the number of hits that Ahman has taken. It is not difficult to imagine that Thompson will let Ahman sign somewhere else. It is not at all inconceivable that Thompson will ask Favre to retire. It seems rather likely that if there is a new head coach in Green Bay that Favre will choose to retire. It seems impossible that Cledetus Hunt will be on the '06 roster - at this instant, one would be taking a long shot to bet that he will be on the '05 roster. Center Mike Flannigan will be in for a big payday, but has had ongoing leg and knee problems. It seems likely that Scott Wells will be taking his place. Ryan Longwell, the Packer's superlative kicker, is not under contract. Personally, I would make signing him a priority. Additionally, the Packers will most likely play most of this year with a pair of aging and mediocre offensive guards. It seems likely that there will be some new blood at this position.
At this instant, the Packers are pretty tight against the salary cap, with about $6M available, about $4M of which will go to signing the new draft picks. It's clear that there will be few major roster changes for the rest of this year. Next year, however, is completely different. At this instant, making a few presumptions about how the draftees will be signed, the Packers have only 34 players under contract for '06 (1). It would appear that they will also have about $55M in available cap space to sign players, either players currently on the roster or players who will become free agents. This is a curious state, as it would appear that Thompson does not place a lot of value on many of the players currently on the roster, nor does he show any inclination to be a big player in free agency. NFL rules specify that the entire salary cap must be spent, but it's not impossible to imagine a situation like Minnesota's last year, where a particular player gets a contract with some "likely to be earned" bonuses which don't get earned. In this way, Minnesota user Randy Moss' contract to effectively move about $7M of last year's salary cap space into this year. It's very plausible that Thompson will do some similar thing, pushing money forward.
The '06 Packers figure to be an exceptionally young and fast team. The starters in the defensive backfield will most likely be Al Harris and a bunch of 2nd and 3rd year guys. There will be almost all new faces on the defensive line. There will most likely be a new starting running back, and perhaps a new quarterback. Continuity will be primarily the offensive tackles, the wide receivers, and the linebackers.
The bottom line is that this is a team and a roster that can only be viewed as in transition. There very well may be a new head coach for the Packers next year, and it's likely that there will be at least 10 and perhaps as many as 20 new faces on the 53 man roster for '06. If Thompson wishes to take this team in a completely new direction, for example completely ditching the West Coast Offense, he will have every opportunity to do so. In my opinion, the team will look very different from the '05 team, and almost unrecognizably different from the '03 team. The key and only major question in terms of the look of the '06 Packers is, will Brett Favre be the starting quarterback.
Players currently under contract for '06
# Name Pos Acquired Yrs Comments (GM perspective)
.4 Brett Favre QB T-92 5 Aging war horse, not too many years left in this one.
11 B.J. Sander P D3c-04 2 Complete unknown, likely serviceable, perhaps pretty good.
12 Aaron Rodgers QB D1-05 5 Complete unknown, but you've made your bet now.
17 Craig Bragg WR/KR D6b-05 3 Complete unknown, could be good.
20 Mark Roman S UFA-04 2 Aging war horse, due to be replaced at first opportunity.
22 Nick Luchey FB UFA-03 3 Hard to say here, might be real good in a run-first offense.
24 Joey Thomas CB D3a-04 2 A big part of your future.
25 Marviel Underwood S D4a-05 3 Penciled in to replace Roman
27 Mike Hawkins CB D5b-05 3 ???? The next Prime Time? Or a flop? Time will tell.
28 Ahmad Carroll CB D1-04 4 A big part of your future.
31 Al Harris CB T-03 4 You simply must rely on this guy for a couple more years.
36 Nick Collins S/CB D2a-05 3 Penciled in to replace Sharper
51 Brady Poppinga LB D4b-05 3 A good depth player, maybe more someday.
52 Kurt Campbell LB D7a-05 3 Take a flyer, see what you get.
56 Nick Barnett LB D1-03 4 A big part of your future.
57 Atlas Herrion G FA-05 2 Penciled in as a guard in '06.
59 Na'il Diggs LB D4a-00 1 You need this guy for a couple years, maybe longer.
62 Junius Coston C/G D5a-05 3 Penciled in as a guard in '06.
63 Scott Wells C D7-04 1 Penciled in as center in '06.
65 Mark Tauscher T D7a-00 3 A big part of your future.
70 Adrian Klemm G UFA-05 1 Gone in 16 games.
76 Chad Clifton T D2-00 4 A big part of your future.
78 Steve Morley T/G FA-04 1 Training camp fodder.
79 William Whitticker G D7b-05 3 Penciled in as a guard in '06.
80 Donald Driver WR D7b-99 2 Not much left in the tank, two years maybe.
81 Andrae Thurman WR FA-04 1 Training camp will tell.
84 Javon Walker WR D1-02 2 Outlook is grim.
86 Terrence Murphy WR/KR D2b-05 3 Your #3 WR of the future.
87 David Martin TE D6-01 1 Not a big part of your plans.
89 Robert Ferguson WR D2-01 3 Your #2 WR for 5 years.
94 Kabeer Gbaja-BiamilaDE D5a-00 4 He's pretty good, and you're married. Make the best of it.
95 Donnell Washington DT D3b-04 2 We'll see. Hope springs eternal.
97 Cletidus Hunt DT D3b-99 3 Gone in 50 days.
99 Corey Williams DT/DE D6-04 2 We'll see. Hope springs eternal.
In the post above, I laid out what I see as the basic facts. Here, I'll speculate wildly.
Imagine you're Ted. You were in Green Bay, and you saw this magical thing where Ron Wolf put together this amazing team. He had Mike Holmgren, a young WCO guy who was full of energy. He had Fritz Shurmer, who had turned into the Dr. Frankenstein (to quote Steve Young) of defensive coordinators. He had Reggie White, who many believe was the most dominant defensive player in the history of the NFL. And he had the young Brett Favre, who would take off running and then magic would happen.
Surrounding this cast, because FA and the cap were new and not well understood, he was able to collect several other difference-makers: Sean Jones, Chewy, Andre Rison, etc.
Now, remember you're still Ted, you follow Holmgren to Seattle where the Great Walrusian assumes complete control. Shurmer very inconveniently dies. What happens? There's no Reggie White. There's no Brett Favre. MH is no longer a young guy with something to prove, now he looks more like a senior dean with a major ego problem. Mike tries to build a clone of the Packers, and fails utterly.
Meanwhile, back in Green Bay, Ron Wolf then Mike Sherman try to regain the lost magic. They fail utterly. There are two standout years remaining in the 10 years that follow the Superbowl, one ruined by massive injuries, the second ruined by a failure of the players to recognize their big chance is here, now, this instant and no other.
You come in and take over. What do you see? An aging quarterback that's not very reliable in playoff games any longer. An aging and underperforming defense. A great OL that you certainly can't afford to keep together, and what looks like an aging RB who perhaps is about to hit the wall. A salary cap that has your hands tied for one year, but then you're free-free-free. What can you salvage, what can you build? Where do you want to take this team? The only really bright spot is you seem to have a great OL coach and a very good OL. You can build on this.
You have to consider that you need a new head coach, not a coach that's desperately trying to reclaim a magic that's ten years gone. A new coach who wants to build a team appropriate to an outdoors stadium that's as north as NFL stadiums get. This team is a Lombardi - Pittsburgh - New England kind of team. Crushing defense, clock eating high-percentage offense. What do you have for a coach? A guy who can design a warm weather WCO that scores points with anyone in the world, but who seems to be clueless about defense.
You have to consider that you need a new QB. You have an aging war horse who is a river boat gambler, exactly the wrong guy for this crushing defense / high percentage offense. What do you do with the HOF / fan favorite? That's easy: play him for 1 or 2 years, 3 at the outside, meanwhile get a Tom Brady / Ben Roethlisberger type ready to replace him. You want someone young, smart, confident, who is going to be willing to run a conservative offense. Aaron Rodgers looks like he might be just about perfect.
Now, about that coach. You have to consider that you have one year of salary cap / roster hell. Why put your new guy though this? Why hire a new HC to run your new look team, then stick him with a WCO and a rebuilding defense? You wait a year, hire your guy, then you and the new guy have $55M and 20 roster spots to play with.
I vacillate on this almost daily, tomorrow I'll most likely have a different opinion, but right now this instant I see Sherman fired in January, a new HC hired by Feb. 10. I see Favre playing this year, maybe next year, not in '07. I see Bates being given whatever he needs in the '06 draft and '06 FA to build his dream DL / LB squad. I see a new head coach, possibly starting Rodgers, and handing off to a rookie RB. Lotsa handoffs, we're talking 55% run / 45% pass. And a young defense that has all the speed in the world in the backfield, and some young fast DL / LBs in front of them.
I think Sherman is gone.
Wednesday, July 06, 2005
Grady Jackson...my two cents
by Mark Quarderer
I'd been worried about this. I knew that Grady was underpaid, especially in comparison to Hunt and KGB. I knew that Grady knew he was underpaid.
And I knew that Grady was not the kind of guy to just sit there and take it. He didn't wear out his welcome in Oakland and New Orleans by being an amiable fellow who takes the bad with the good.
So now he is planning on holding out of training camp unless we strike a new deal.......
Here's my two cents..
Grady is 32. He played in about 38% of our defensive snaps. He's our best run defender. We really don't have anybody behind him who has proven he can play in the NFL.
If Jackson holds out of training camp, I really wonder what kind of shape we could expect him to be in. I really wonder if his body would hold up for the season or if he'd miss considerable time with injury, or if injuries would slow him down and make him less effective.
I think that this, again, goes to the whole Rebuilding/reloading thing. If you're reloading, you'd try to keep Grady around for a couple of years....he is, after all, your best defensive lineman in many respects. If you're rebuilding, however, why would you make a future financial commitment to a guy who is 32, has a bad body, and has signed with Rodenthouse?
We don't know what else we have at tackle. Washington, Lee, and Williams are guys high on promise and potential but collectively they haven't done nearly as much as Grady.
How serious is a holdout by Grady? He'd be giving up the better part of a million dollars to sit out this season. Next year, he'd be 33 and away from football for a year. Plus, and this is a question, doesn't he still owe the Packers a year if he sits out this year?
This is another area where I expect TT to stand firm. I just don't see him renegotiating Grady's contract under threat of a holdout.
Monday, July 04, 2005
Packers 2005 Offense, Which way will they go?
You’ve got one of the most prolific NFL quarterbacks of all time. You’ve got a solid pass protecting offensive line and a returning Pro Bowl wide receiver. You made it to the playoffs with the 10th ranked passing offense, and your offense was ranked 12th overall in the NFL.
This is where the Packers sat following the 2002 season. That year they passed the ball 56% of the time, 68% of their first downs came from the pass and the passing game accounted for 65% of their total yards. Driver had 70 receptions for 1,064 yards and Brett had 3,658 passing yards with a 62% completion percentage and only 16 interceptions. Sounds like a recipe for continued emphasis on the passing scheme the following season, doesn’t it? Well guess again.
The Packers made a significant change in their offense in 2003, they went to the running game. That year they ran the ball 52% of the time and their rushing yards accounted for 44% of their offensive production and 43% of their first downs. It was the breakout year for Ahman Green who rushed for almost 1,900 yards. It was the introduction of the U-Bacon package, and the offensive lineman challenged opposing defenses in the media to try and stop them even when they knew what the play was going to be. It vaulted their offense to 4th overall in the NFL offensive rankings, 3rd in the run and 16th in the pass.
In retrospect, it was probably a move bordering on coaching genius. Every sign pointed to a continued pass-oriented attack that opposing defenses must plan for both in scheme and in personnel in the offseason. By all rights, it was a move that could very easily have gotten them to the SB, if not for a play that will forever be remembered in Packer Fandom as “4th and 26” and an ill-timed Favre interception in overtime.
At any rate, it forced teams during the 2004 offseason to think a little bit more. The Packers stood pat for the most part during the offseason, virtually all the coaches and players were the same, and everyone was in pretty good health. What would the Packers do, passing game or running game? If it ain’t broke you don’t fix it, right? Well as we all know, they threw everybody for a loop and went back to the pass.
In 2004 they passed the ball 58% of the time and their passing game accounted for 70% of their total yards. Once again, 70% of their first downs came from the pass and Favre had another career year with over 4,000 yards passing, a 64% completion percentage and 17 interceptions. Green still had a respectable year with 1,163 yards rushing, but he had the fewest receptions since coming to Green Bay. Even though their running game dropped to 10th in the NFL, their overall offense went up to 3rd thanks to their 3rd ranked passing game.
The question is, where do they go in 2005?
Assuming Bubba and Walker come to their senses and play this year, the only major changes have been at the guard position. Losing Rivera’s pass-blocking ability and Wahle’s run-blocking ability should be a wash in the overall scheme of things and we don’t know yet where their replacement’s strengths lie.
Green, Davenport, Henderson and Fisher and are in contract years which should add some incentive to put up some impressive numbers, but Walker will also have some incentive to justify his demands for a top-10 contract and Driver & Ferguson will want to justify the contracts they’ve already gotten.
You’ve got the fact that this could very well be Favre’s last year, some records he could set and an incentive for him to go out on a high note. If something should happen to him, you’ve got a number of backup QBs itching to prove they belong in the NFL. You also have a new GM with a Head Coach he didn’t hire in the last year of his contract, which means an entire offensive coaching staff who are also in the last year of theirs.
So which way do they go in 2005?
IMO, they go to a running game that sets up a short passing game. It seems the other teams in the division have concentrated on improving their pass defenses in the offseason by signing a number of CBs and safeties. Hitting them with the run and short, quick passes will negate those improvements. This attack will also help keep Brett healthy and may also cut down on interceptions.
It takes the pressure off the OL and gives them time to gel. It gives the ball more to two running backs with a great deal to prove, although if successful it means losing one, if not both of them. It may mean keeping Walker for a reasonable cap number. It will also take some of the pressure off any QB coming in to replace Brett if something happens to him. It uses the TE as a weapon for a change, no one will be expecting that.
The bottom line is that in the NFL you’ve got to keep changing to keep the other teams off balance. History suggests the Packers will do just that.